Oh God, not another white-guy-with-acoustic-guitar act. I bet he raps too doesn’t he. What’s that? Every song is a complex and absurdist insight into the human experience told from the perspective of perfectly constructed metaphors based around sci-fi and horror? Oh…
E.W Harris is utterly unique in the folk genre, not as a result of the electronic tinges his music takes on, but because of the bizarre subject material of the stories being told. I generally garner my enjoyment of music from a unique melodic feature, or an interesting instrument thrown into the mix,but the craftsmanship shown in Harris’ lyrics is the best part of this album. It’s a tour-de-force in blending personal struggle with outlandish metaphorical observations.
On the title track “Re-entry”, Harris likens himself to an astronaut entering a world he doesn’t recognise, “The world is strange on the surface, and I am changed on the surface” he sings, before going on to vividly paint a vision of this alien planet, “Violet Oceans in violent motions, they swirl and crash to breach an afterimage sky”. “Panopticon” opts for a more haunting instrumental, with a driving, almost tribal beat, and what I’m almost certain are steel drums in places. “Phonies” is a starker affair, with Harris’ impressive vocals being at the forefront. The theme here seems to be more religious, with lyrics such as, “All those who know, never can tell, who goes to heaven and who goes to hell”. “Ether” is the catchiest song on the album.
The highlight of the album for me is the longest song in the setlist, “Los Vampiros”. If the chilling violin tremolos didn’t make it a perfect candidate for the soundtrack of a Hitchcock-esque horror film, then the tormented lyrics certainly do. “I’ll wander around some dusty back roads, round up some freaks and start my own show” being just a short extract from a song as poetically theatrical as anything I’ve heard all year. The effort thrown into this song is so clear, from not only its length, but from its dedication to its noir tone. By the time the final croaked words die away, I’m convinced that this album challenges Father John Misty for my folk album of the year.
As I’m sure you’ve deduced, I enjoyed this album a great deal. Few albums are as expansive in their emotional range, lyrical creativity or tonal consistency. I recommend that you listen to this album and buy it in whichever formats are available.