C’mon by Low (2011. Subpop Records)

Lush. Elegant. Original. Ethereal. Orchestral.

These are adjectives that come to mind when listening to the latest studio effort by Duluth’s beloved home grown slow rock group, Low. I’ll be honest. I’ve always liked Low: Years ago I watched them do a live radio show for KUWS at the Marshall Performing Arts Center on the UMD campus and I knew the group was special. But I also realized, given my native Duluth fatalism, that Low was likely too good for us. And until I bought the group’s current CD at the Fetus, I didn’t own any of their music. Maybe I was skeptical of their loyalty; convinced that they would leave us for bright lights and a bigger paycheck. After all, Duluth ain’t the Twin Cities and whenever someone with talent begins to make a name for himself or herself as a writer, musician, artist, athlete, or whatever, they rarely stick around. Oh, folks not from Duluth, now they’ll move here and put down roots and keep making music or art or dancing in the Duluth Ballet. But native Duluthians with talent? The legacy of such folks has been a constant migration to places where the weather’s warmer and the money’s better. Not so with Low. They, along with our other truly national musical talent, Trampled by Turtles, still call Duluth home. So it’s with a certain amount of chest-puffing pride that I proclaim: This album is the best of 2011. Hands down. Any genre. Any language. Anywhere.

Mimi Parker, Alan Sparhawk, and Steve Garrington have cobbled together as good a musical moment as you’re going to experience. Comparing C’mon to another album by another artist just doesn’t do the effort justice. From the opening strains of “Try to Sleep” to the closing bars of the Wilcoesque “Something’s Turning Over”, the vocals, arrangements, and musicianship on this effort shine through. The lyrics are simple. There’s nothing about the words on C’mon that will have Dylan or Young or Chapin-Carpenter (or any other noted lyricist) shaking in his or her boots. But you know what? It doesn’t matter a lick. A great example of this is “Nothing but Heart”. There can’t be more than twenty different words tops used in the tune but Sparhawk’s guitar work, Parker’s background vocals, and Garrington’s bass playing create a sensory experience that more than makes up for the sparseness of the lyrics.

I couldn’t find a weak link in this chain of original, well-crafted music. Not a one.

I always try to imagine which ten albums, CD or vinyl, I’d want with me if shipwrecked on a desert island. Mountain’s Flowers of Evil is an easy pick. Blond on Blond by Dylan is another. Live Rust by Neil Young is a likely “yes”. I’m pretty sure C’mon is now on that list.

You can learn more about Low’s music at: http://chairkickers.com/.

5 stars out of 5.

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