Danny Pearson, formerly of alkie-depresso lovelorn folk-rockists American Music Club, bewitches and beguiles with his new outfit, Clodhopper. Red’s Recovery Room is the jagged rawness, power and intimate immediacy of spirit brethren Rex, Paleface and Cat Power coupled with the more linear singer-songwriter narrative of Victoria Williams or Jim White. At once honing in on sound ancient as mountains and current as the cracked asphalt beneath rushing feet, Clodhopper tugs at the collective heart of America’s commonality of longing and resignation. Love songs are both tender and terrified: “I can’t help myself, I live in my head/I look down from great heights/I see myself slip, back into my skin/I want to be happy, how do you try?”
The banjo forms a landscape in which nestles the layers of slow po-mo steel, the tinkle of mandolin, guitar wash and Pearson’s frangible, weary vocals. From the jangly Feelies bent of “Chrystalline” to the seemingly R.E.M.- inspired “Cecil”, it’s not hard to imagine what went round these fellas’ turntables ten or fifteen years ago. This, rather than being tired or problematic, is comforting, faintly familiar and welcome, like the slightly buzzed but sweet fellow always at the end of the bar with a kind word.
Red’s Recovery Room is a supple, sleepy little record spinning tales the color of weather-washed barns, of shale laden earth, and of morning’s first light creeping cross the floor. Clodhopper should be making the soundtrack for my rainy Sunday mornings for some time.