Sorry about the small album cover. Come on, you've missed my traditional difficulties with graphics, haven't you? At least there are waves.
Paper Navy is a four-piece band from near Nashville, Tennessee, that draws its inspiration from be brave, you can do this Country & Western and American pop from the 70s. I think they've drawn their instrumentation from the past, too, because there's not a whiff of a synth, digital effect or anything with a microchip in it. Doctor Who could smuggle All Grown Up into a Nashville record shop circa 1972 and no-one would be any the wiser.
Pleasingly for those of us with OCD, today's recommended track, Swan Song, adheres to its title and is the last track on All Grown Up. It's a charming, foot-tapping folk song with a surprisingly bleak attitude and a jaunty whistled riff that will rest awhile in your cortex before continuing its search for a spaghetti western it can call home. (Somewhere, Sergio Leone is gnashing his teeth in frustration.) Have a listen via the first appearance at CTW of Bandcamp's media player:
(Apologies to feed readers: Google Reader hates me. Please visit the link at the end of the review or visit CTW and get grimy.) Apart from being unable to resist whistling that riff for the rest of the week, you'll notice from the lyrics that there's none of that twee "my jiggling dashboard Jesus will guide me through the roadworks of life" C&W nonsense. (Please note, anonymous angry internet person, that CTW respects all creeds from devout to aetheistic. I'm so fluffy.) Instead, All Grown Up takes an existentialist but pragmatic view of life. For instance, I Can't Read essays the following thought: Do we persist out of fear/The afterlife ever near/I'd be remiss were I not a critic/So God save the cynic.
The title song is a lament for childhood by someone who isn't too keen on adulthood. It's child-like guitars, rocking singalong chorus and Beatles-ish backing vocals will soon have you singing All Grown Up at work, shortly before you curl up in a foetal position and force the boss to call social services. But I regress digress.
If you're a fan of the album Homecoming by that quintessentially American folk-rock band of the 70s, America, then make a bee-line for Factories, where Shawn Anfinson's folky vocal harmonies about bitter-sweet love and longing should remind you strongly of that classic bit of, er, Americana.
Make Time is just about the simplest, most everyday love song I've ever heard. How's this for a lack of artifice: I'm not a superstar/but I can cut the grass and clean the car/And I'll make time for you/I love the woman I'm married to. That's either the apogee or the death of romance. Answers on a postcard, please.
To save this review turning into a boring list of song descriptions, allow me to be lazy inform you that in All Grown Up, Paper Navy have produced an album that is more than the sum of its twangy Telecaster-laden parts; it's a beautifully produced set of hummable songs that display a questioning sensibility about modern life. Not all albums need the latest whiz-bang effects to make their point: music fans know that there'll always be a place for good melodies, harmonies and lyrics, pure and not so simple. Now, having avoided doing my job properly given this lovely album a thorough reviewing, it falls to CTW to encourage you to send some "thank you" emails to Paper Navy and ask Shawn how the band managed to record the tracks in his laundry room and yet still produce such a sparklingly pristine set of underpants songs.
I apologise for being so witty overdoing the strikethrough gag.