Earlier Ways to Wander

BY Vish KhannaPublished Dec 1, 2004

The Silt’s sophomore album is a rootsy, indie rock gem whose captivating spirit is sure to bolster the rep of these budding alt-country geniuses. In general, the songs found here take their time to unravel with only three of the nine checking in under five minutes. Though not self-indulgent about it, the Silt’s core trio of multi-instrumentalist songwriters — Ryan Driver, Marcus Quin, and Doug Tielli — all seem keen to let their compositions guide themselves, allowing songs to pause or disintegrate before they re-emerge in their initial state. "Happy Wheat,” for example, is a lo-fi, honky-tonker that sounds like it could self-destruct at any second. "One Day Will Come” is a lilting, organ-driven ballad that gains much from the sophisticated drumming that accompanies it, while the mopey "Flutter Down,” is salvaged by a teasing arrangement and a knowing trombone. "Manitoba” is possibly the record’s catchiest moment, where a childlike melody supports some awfully heady imagery. "Waltzing Around” is a stoner, country-blues that harkens back to late-’60s Byrds or the broke-down efforts of early Beck. And if collaborator Eric Chenaux’s "Sloppy Ground” appeared on a proper Palace/Will Oldham album, no one would be the wiser. Influences aside, the principal songwriters in the Silt each possess a unique poetic voice. They are deft lyricists, melding hopeless abstractions with universal truisms and delivering them with heart and, not soul per se, but rather gusto and guts. It may take its time but Earlier Ways to Wander has all the elements of an underground classic waiting to be discovered.

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