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Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

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Album Review

An elegant debut from an artist with a matured sense of the song, this is a beautiful folk-inflected album from New York singer/songwriter Patrick Gubler. As a member of the Tower Recordings, P.G. Six has been on the fringes of the lo-fi and experimental movement since the mid-'90s. His group were possibly the first of a wave of British folk revivalists, and the work of John Renbourn, Bert Jansch, and Pentangle can be heard bubbling through the surface of this beautifully recorded album. From home recording atmospheres chime the sounds of an upright piano, acoustic guitar, and singing, while the studio brings other instruments such as a combination of exotic and conventional drums from Silver Jews/Jim O'Rourke drummer Tim Barnes (who is also credited with production duties). While maintaining the Anglo folk feel throughout, this album goes off into some improvisational tangents that in part recall the space blues of Loren MazzaCane Conners. The highlight is "The Shepard," which has a distinct similarity to Robert Wyatt's rendition of Elvis Costello's Falklands War ballad "Shipbuilding." That indefinable charm of candid home recording mixed with American songwriting sensibilities suggest similarities to (Smog), Cat Power, and Will Oldham, only the production is fearless of studio trickery, and this makes for a richly textured listen. With respectful nods to his forbearers — Bert Jansch, Townes Van Zandt, and Anne Briggs (he covers her beautiful "Go Your Way My Love") — P.G. Six opens a window into an intimate and subdued world of six-string storytelling. On "The Call," his exquisite voice is double-tracked, John Lennon style, amid a fingerpicking workout on acoustic with a lead guitar fuzz straight out of the George Harrison riff book. A consummate musician, he plays all instruments except drums, which Barnes provides with a syncopated backdrop to the tightly arranged songs. Elsewhere, harp is played with the virtuosity of a baroque/early music performer, a technical stretch that few other post-lo-fi autodidacts have achieved, and many would not have the audacity to include such an instrument. It is highly effective here, and his songwriting skills transpose perfectly well onto that instrument on the closing ballad, "Letter to Lilly St Cyr." There's no better way to end an album, and you can almost hear the strings echo through the upstate hills.

Biography

Born: 21 February 1969 in The Bronx, New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '00s, '10s

P.G. Six is one of the monikers used by Patrick Gubler, a New York singer/guitar player whose debut solo album, Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites, was released in 2001 by the Amish label to much critical acclaim. Having released an out of print single under the same moniker in the '90s, his style developed from the lo-fi aesthetic into a sophisticated songcraft akin to Bert Jansch or John Renbourn. As a multi-instrumentalist, he worked in the group Tower Recordings, which released albums on the Siltbreeze...
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Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites, P.G. Six
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