This release slipped out quietly at the end of 2011. Desertshore is the band of former Red House Painters guitarist Phil Carney in collaboration with classical pianist Chris Connolly. Their first album was all instrumental but on their second album they are joined on vocals and bass on 6 of the 10 tracks here by none other than Mark Kozelek.
Opening track Diana is like an early period Red House Painters plod, with downtuned, electric guitars growling away gloriously. Mercy is a sunnier acoustic strum, while Connolly’s beautiful piano gives the sighing guitars of Turtle Pond an added warmth.
After the Sun Kil Moon sounding Randy Quaid and brief piano lament Vernon Forrest, Molle is a more complex piece of music. Almost jazz-tinged, with incidental keyboards and guitars providing a slow build-up. It’s more than halfway through the track before we hear Kozelek’s vocal singing about “walking around downtown Lisbon” over rainy day music before he asks “where are you Monica”. Yes, that IS as wonderful as it sounds.
The six vocal tracks are all positioned first on the album, making the four instrumentals which make up the remainder seem somewhat of an afterthought. Dismiss them at your peril, though most of them are brief, from the piano piece Light Flowers, through the acoustic Pollen Hinges before the lengthier and somewhat valedictory Matchlight Arcana which evokes Teenage Fanclub’s Is This Music?
It’s a fine album albeit melancholic. There is much to enjoy here for fans of Mark Kozelek and Sun Kil Moon.