Americana, and folk music in general, holds few surprises these days, which makes the success of Kurt Vile all the more gratifying. The Philly guitarist's fourth solo disc, 2011's Smoke Ring for My Halo, broke him out of the shadows of his former group, the jammy War on Drugs, with lush, rootsy detail and golden tones. On third Matador full-length Wakin on a Pretty Daze, the smoke remains, but sunbeams stream through the curtains. "Was All Talk" finds Vile strolling through sunny Germany to pick up motorik rhythms, ending confidently with, "Makin' music is easy – watch me." That's simple, given that first single "Never Run Away" is perhaps the best thing he's committed to tape, floating atmospherically with a subtly infectious melody and gorgeous synthetic strings. Those string flourishes elevate Vile to new heights, so why they're not included on the album version of the song constitutes a letdown. By the time the album closes on the warm, wandering "Goldtone," Vile and the listener remain dazed and confused, but smiling.
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