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Record review

Reviewed by Melanie Haupt, June 24, 2005, Music

Great Lake Swimmers


God bless Sam Beam of Iron & Wine. He's opened the door for introspective singer-songwriters to whisper into the wilds, causing a quiet conundrum in bedrooms hither and yon. Enter Great Lake Swimmers – really just Torontoan Tony Dekker – who make desolation rather enjoyable on the project's eponymous debut, which was originally released in 2003 but is enjoying a U.S. renaissance thanks to Austin's Misra Records. Relying mostly on Dekker's voice and guitar (with the exception of the lovely, Toronto-centric "I Will Never See the Sun"), Great Lake Swimmers is reminiscent of Neil Young in its sparse emotionality and cinematic approach. Dekker is a keenly aware narrator, as evidenced on the album's opener, "Moving Pictures Silent Films." On it, he sings, "I took it for love or at least something beautiful. I turned around suddenly, turned around squinting, and the truth was unbearable." His articulation of hope and disappointment is striking in its simplicity, which can be said of the entire disc. Dekker's writing rivals that of Beam and Sufjan Stevens, creating a space for inner quiet in which one gets lost for hours, nursing whatever hurt needs attention.


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