Conrad, Saul – “A Tyrant and Lamb” – [Cavity Search]
Saul Conrad’s album “A Tyrant and Lamb” out on Cavity Search is a current day balladeers collection of love won and lost, life in general and specific. Being on Cavity Search, home of Elliot Smith, think of the great suicidal musician and you understand why Conrad fits in so neatly. Reminiscent of Smith and Neil Young but unique in his way. I’m a sucker for the off key voice that cracks on high notes. It feels lonely yet comfortable. Simple rhymes in poetic rich lyrics set in the country. Imagery of the landscape connects to the characters’ emotional state. It’s been done before, of course, but Conrad does it so well. Instrumentation is mostly acoustic: stand up piano, acoustic guitar, drums. It’s mostly slow or medium paced and kind of quiet. Sittin’ on the porch. The production makes some of the songs sound dusty, echoey, tapping into memory filled with specifics yet vagaries. It’s not country music. It’s more easy listening like Smith is or more how easy listening should sound or how KFJC would want easy listening to sound. You have to think when you listen to this stuff. It doesn’t always give you an easy answer but somehow it is understood.