Thursday, 28 November 2013

Album review: HOWE GELB - The Coincidentalist

Highlights: Left Of Center, The 3 Deaths Of Lucky, Unforgivable, Picacho Peak

First of all, I love the title. The Coincidentalist is concise, inventive and it pleasantly reminds me of Robert Forster’s The Evangelist (side note: it’s been five years, Robert, five bloody years). Two: I find the cover very tasteful, and it perfectly captures the record’s vibe: slightly dark yet not menacing. But most importantly, the music is genuinely good. Listening to The Coincidentalist is like drinking warm tea with milk on a nasty November day.

Howe Gelb (also of Giant Sand – which is good but one of many) sings in a misty baritone and comes across like a young, more playful Leonard Cohen. This can’t be a bad thing. The mood set with “Vortexas” is sustained all the way through, right until the closing jazzy instrumental "Instigated Chimes” that sounds as if it was written at least half a century ago. While the whole thing is really consistent, The Coincidentalist is many things. It is jazzy, bluesy, country-ish (no wonder, considering Gelb’s roots), and it has enough room for creativity. The tea has an inventive twist to it, which comes through diverse instrumentation (you even get to hear chiming bells in the title track), effective backing vocals (that weird scream in “Triangulate” is especially wonderful) and a glorious duet with KT Tunstall (“The 3 Deaths Of Lucky”).

The Coincidentalist does its job in clever and swift 37 minutes. It doesn’t set the world on fire, nor has any intention of doing anything like that, but its sounds are physically pleasing. This album envelopes you in a truly profound way. Also, I’d just like to note that I’d give a lot to hear Tom Waits cover “Picacho Peak” – surely one of the most beautiful, timeless and downright best songs of 2013. All that and more makes The Coincidentalist a low-key triumph.


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