Roky Erickson with Okkervil River
True Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., April 16, 2010
Roky Erickson with Okkervil RiverTrue Love Cast Out All Evil (Anti-)
The Roky Erickson that first emerges on True Love is an unprecedented incarnation of the artist, subtle and tenderly haunting as he sings the opening lines of "Devotional Number One" in his plaintive tenor. Revelation couched in a fable, the recording is raw and tinny, as if etched on the walled wells of a distant memory. Will Sheff and Okkervil River softly fold in an overdubbed arrangement of swaddling strings and piano, evincing a potential of spiritual light and clarity swallowed by a crashing flood of static and discarded voices. The song serves as poignant preamble to the album that follows, a history of lost years scored in rough archives and masterfully resurrected by Sheff's production. Like the relentless mining of a dark cultural unconscious in his own songwriting, Sheff raises Erickson's repressed past with an unflinching personal intensity. The fervent, cathartic yearning of "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" scorches with an eerie screech of guitar, while "John Lawman" warps ferocious and indicting. Yet it's the bare honesty of subdued songs like the Americana-tinged title track, "Be and Bring Me Home," and "Forever," plus the stunningly broken plea of "Please Judge" rent by the upending onslaught of electronic feedback, in which Erickson's tormented and earnestly searching psyche is given voice. These songs are his scars, remarkable remnants of pain and promise and hope that may never be healed, but are now at least somewhat salved by finally being heard.