The last few years in music have seen some rather massive collaborations, notably with bands featuring guest vocalists on their songs. This exists in the more obscure scene as well, and a great example is Dennis Callaci and Simon Joyner’s New Secrets. The veterans’ back catalogs present a litany of lo-fi and folk rock specimens, and the result of the two putting their heads together is definitely similar, though with scoops of sludge thrown in for good measure.
The album is significantly rustic with Americana shades, partly owing to the fact that it was recorded in Callaci’s house. The production quality is superb, however, and a quick listen to a track like “Tender Came By” will prove it. The songs are well balanced, mixed, and feature varying instrumentation that draw from country and noise influences. Most songs exhibit a “post-Dylan” style that typifies the record. “The Frayed End of the Rope” is a slow-paced campfire sing-along featuring strings and reedy vocals that could easily be played over the closing credits to a comedy movie. “Blessed Things” is a simple hymn that floats like a stormy summer day––are those windchimes? It encapsulates a Midwstern authenticity that would sound perfectly in place at a Montana farm or a Missouri open mic night.
Despite all the honesty in the record (and well-penned lyrics), it feels bloated. “Mary” sounds like a Texas karaoke match that went wrong, and “Old Man In The Rain” seems like a thrown-together jam in a key the singer wasn’t comfortable with. Yes, Callaci and Joyner have extensive musical histories, but is that an excuse for the out-of-tune moaning? There are many positives about the record, but unfortunately they are deflated by the sweaty laziness of the record, apparent in the times when the band seems to fall behind or the melodies just don’t sound good.