Steve Von Till A Grave is a Grim Horse

Maybe it’s because he’s had two previous cracks at it but Mr. Von Till is starting to darkly shine as a solo performer. Taking a break from his goat skull-wielding pals in Neurosis, he has strapped on an acoustic guitar once again to illustrate that power doesn’t just come from wattage. Tracks like "Valley of the Moon” and "Western Son” borrow liberally from Whiskey for the Holy Ghost-era Mark Lanegan for mood, tempo and dustiness (but then again, Lanegan borrowed liberally from Cohen, Cash and even Hazlewood, so…). Issues of originality are pretty moot, given the presence of not two but four covers on the album: tracks by Nick Drake, Mickey Newberry, Lyle Lovett and Townes Van Zandt. Of these, Van Zandt’s "The Spider Song” comes across best. With an appropriately low-key delivery and help from Joe Goldring on guitar and Jeffrey Luck Lucas on cello (who separately have sided everyone from Swans to Jolie Holland), Von Till escapes a tarring and feathering offence. It isn’t reinventing the wagon wheel but this grim horse is a trusty ride. (Neurot)