DUST DIVE - Claws Of Light

Dust Dive - Claws Of Light

12 songs
45:18 minutes
***** ***


Folk music is supposed to reflect the soul of a country, and even though clichés have indoctrinated us to consider country and western as the mirror of a nation that characterises itself with doctrines like manifest destiny and an overall go-west mentality, it’s probably artists like The Dust Dive that are the true soul of American folk music. The three-piece, consisting most of the time of Laura Ortman on electric guitar, Ken Switzer on organ and Bryan Zimmerman on vocals, plays a dozen songs on their second album Claws Of Light that are purest lo-fi Americana that sound like Sparklehorse on a very cloudy day, although the nearly omnipresent chord organ also takes a nod to the outsider music universe of Daniel Johnston.

The opener Babyface In A Pickup Truck, one of the few songs on the album with drums, quotes irreverently Steve Miller, and is one of the more upbeat performances, although it is anything but happy. From there on, the cover artwork, depicting a deserted Midwest landscape, seems to become music. The atmosphere on Claws Of Light is of a haunting quality if there ever was one, with the band going at it in a very elegiac way. Pervaded by sadness, there is still an inherent beauty to all the songs, and the simple yet transparent production firmly roots this band in a tradition of other lo-fi artists that also love to use a plenitude of instruments (violin, musical saw, casio, radio, samples,…) without ever overloading a single song, creating thus an overall richness of sound that is reflected by a strict minimalism of each single track.

Claws Of Light feels like when the circus has left town, and with the circus everything else worth living for, leaving the population stranded in their memories of the past. It’s surprising that this band is located in New York, and it comes as no surprise that The Dust Dive have their origins in rural Massachusetts. Claws Of Light is anything but a happy album, but as long as people are still able to convey their sadness and despair in such a beautiful way, there is still hope in their hearts. Congratulations to Own Records for releasing such a treasure chest of melancholic gems.

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