Dan Michaelson - Sudden Fiction
Oh the quietude. We're told this album is inspired by a trip to Texas, to a town I've never heard of, but known for paranormality. If this is the scrapbook, the polaroids, then the place itself must be dazzlingly lit by a relentless sun, almost too hot to move, the whole observed through hazy motes of clay dust. The record is slow, so slow you can feel the groan of dry leather in its footsteps.
Musically, Dan Michaelson's voice rasps and creaks as much as that leather, barely more than a slow spoken murmur. The accompaniment is simply strummed acoustic guitar and single piano notes, oozed out one drop at a time. There is fleeting relief by way of cello and pedal steel, but these only emphasise the sparseness elsewhere. As for lyrical content, it takes its lead from the album title. Sudden Fiction is a supposed literary genre that tells the most story with the least words, and that's the case here. Some few words, such as the repeated line in 'Tonight' that "we could be anywhere at all", are such that the listener can apply emotional transference; make it with the least effort fit their own circumstance of the moment. Given the nature of this quiet beast, it doesn't work as background. On the car stereo it's useless; on a set of cans alongside a Sunday night glass of wine it's a thing of understated charm. If you need antecedents, Michaelson's last album, in 2010, was Rough Trade's album of the year.