Walkabouts Trail Of Stars

Trail Of Stars is an apt title - this puppy is dark and understated. I'm talking dead of night music for musing and nursing regrets. People come and go throughout the songs, passing without connecting. Though there's the occasional coupling, these characters are alone even when they're together. Writer Chris Eckman's voice is a semi-whispered baritone that falls somewhere between Leonard Cohen and Roger Waters. His lyrics are dark enough that he makes those guys sound like Louis Prima. He leaves about half the lead vocals to Carla Torgerson, whose cool clear voice brings an even more disturbing sense of detachment to the songs. The music has a cryptic and spooky Giant Sand vibe to it, though it's not nearly as ramshackle. In fact, the tight structures and deliberateness bring an unsettling claustrophobia to even the spare and open sounding tracks. The sense of dread is heightened by keeping to slow and medium tempos. They've moved away from the rootsy Neil Young influences of their early records and now have more of a Nick Cave Euro sophistication and ennui. If you find Morrisey too light and really want to revel in your misery, this is the one for you. (Glitterhouse)