Becoming All Things (Belle City Pop)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Nov. 16, 2007
ZookeeperBecoming All Things (Belle City Pop!)
Becoming All Things finds former Mineral/Gloria Record principal Chris Simpson moving forward by reaching back. As a rotating cast ensemble with Simpson as the only constant, Zookeeper invites structural comparisons to Bright Eyes, but a deeper musical touchstone might be found in Al Kooper's on-the-fly organ parts on "Like a Rolling Stone." Pitting Simpson's introspective songwriting against a rough-hewn, pots-and-pans atmosphere gives his songs room to breathe, the humanity of his unrestrained, rising/falling vocal style more pronounced in this context. Opener "Snow in Berlin" is a six-minute blast of a revival caravan, while "Trumpets" continues in that vein by commingling guitars, organ, and barroom piano into a shimmering wash of reaffirmation. Kooper gets name-checked on the transitional snippet "Al Kooper's Party Horn," but the album's second-half highlight is the elegiac "On High," a distant thematic cousin to Willie Nelson's "Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground." It's like a Rolling Thunder Revue for your living room.