Ethan Azarian & Jeff Johnston
Ethan Azarian & Jeff Johnston (Farmhouse Recordings)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., May 22, 2015
This rustic excursion from ex-Orange Mothers plays like a deeper meditation on their former band's oblique handling of universal subject matter. Largely recorded in a Vermont farmhouse, the duo's 12-song debut unfolds slowly and deliberately, concentrating on the finer grains of both joy and sorrow at a pace foreign to city life. Sparse, acoustic guitar-driven arrangements are colored in with strategic snatches of banjo, bowed saw, and electric piano. A distanced falsetto on "Nobody's Home" encapsulates numbed-out isolation, and "Thirty" explores the uneasy vagaries of incipient maturity through the eyes of Azarian's knowing spouse. Interplanetary traveler "Home" transposes sea shanty verses with eerie aural interludes, while Mothers chestnuts "Candy Clover" and "Never Slow Down" are redrawn in a folkier, more contemplative light. As Azarian's lyrical whimsy tempers his bewilderment at middle age, the pastoral New England farm scenes of "Summer" become all the more reassuring at album's end.