William Butler Yeats, recipient of the 1923 Nobel Prize for literature, has been re-affirmed all over again by Jolie Holland collaborators Brian Miller and Pete Musselman. Yeats Is Greats consists of several singings of Will’s poems, supplemented by original compositions penned within a similar spirit.
Musically, we’re presented with a fairly studious brand of glacial pop-folk, tinged with wilting alt-country and psychedelia. The Yeats poems are realized with an imaginative fan’s perspective. So “To a Man Young and Old” transposes a celebration of “
The album lives by the fact that Miller and Musselman’s compositions mesh into their poetry readings naturally. Thus “To a Man Young and Old” is followed by “The Temp Worker.” The jangling country taut is carried over, and a similar observational mockery is adapted to office captivity. “Hey Rat” taps into a cynical, unassuming disquiet worthy of Neva Dinova’s The Hate Yourself Change. Casting an accusing glance at anonymous loved ones “making me paranoid every time I sneeze,” it saves the bad vibes for the lines. Quite possibly the feel bad hit of the summer, then. “Music for Concertina, Violin, and Russia” has a warm rhythmic hum recalling The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin. “Lost in a Crowd” echoes Richard James and a more gentrified sibling of Elliott Smith’s “I’d Better Be Quiet Now.” “Nothing Ever Dies” celebrates “rain in the summer falling into grass,” but stands daunted by the past and its consequences. It might moonlight on the Sparklehorse debut Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.
Yeats Is Greats is a solid record unified and galvanized by its slightly novel, yet eminently creditable theme. To steal from Ghost World‘s Enid, I can’t bear the notion of a world where albums like this cant get a good review. Sometimes a little imagination and interest can justify homage. This is one of them.
Neva Dinova- The Hate Yourself Change
Richard James- The Seven Sleepers Den
Lou Reed- The Raven