"One of this year’s most haunting and strangest records... In fact, it could be the most lurid, Lynchian indie classical album ever made." - New York Music Daily
"A macabre storytelling feast for those with an appreciation for the little bit odd."
illustration by Mary Symczak
Washed-out guitars, mangled percussion, out-of-tune pianos and disembodied vocals teetering on the edge of atonality are the vehicle for these texts of obsession, love, loss and mania, voices of victims and perpetuators, women and men driven mad and crossing the line.
A couple of years ago I got a little obsessed with murder ballads and got it in my head that I'm going to write some new ones, that I'm going to take the genre and inject it with my particular mix of chamber and pop, acoustic and electric, near-atonality and some odd rhythms. As chance would have it, I happened to meet poet Rachel Abramowitz and mentioned this idea to her. She got excited and 48 hours later I had a bunch of fresh texts in my inbox.
The collaboration led to Thorns All Over, an album of musical settings of contemporary murder ballads. The texts play off the folk tradition and augment it with modern language and psychological insight while the music similarly takes the relatively simple structure of the ballad and layers it with contemporary harmony, rhythm and timbre.
Continuing the method I employed for There's a Bluebird in My Heart, I've employed modern production techniques to create music that straddles the line between pop and chamber, traditional and avant-garde, and draws on my experience in contemporary chamber and various folk traditions as well as my love for pop songwriting. The result are odd songs with a unique sonic landscape, prickly harmonies and fluid forms. While Bluebird was mostly self-produced and self-performed, I reached out to my group of beautiful talented friends to help me with this one, and so the album features contributions from a murderer's row of fine folk from NYC's improvised, indie and chamber music scenes, including Laura Brenneman, Ben Holmes, Quince Marcum, Oscar Noriega, Reuben Radding, Jean Rohe, Katie Scheele, Skye Steele and David Wechsler.
Thorns All Over is available at Bandcamp, in either digital form or beautifully mastered 45, cut with extraordinary depth and richness by Scott Hull at Masterdisk.