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Further from Grace

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Album Review

On his second album, Nick Castro works with a slightly ad hoc band, the Poison Tree, drawing on similarly Pennsylvania-based 21st century acoustic/psych performers such as folks from Espers. It's a fine pairing, resulting in an album very much in the vein of performers old and new such as the Incredible String Band in its quieter moods and Stone Breath at its most gothed out. As many musicians are now actively exploring this vein, though, it's all the more important to stand out from the field. Castro's singing voice is in ways his calling card. His songs are enjoyable if not surprising interpretations of the form, so it's the clear, crisp rasp in his singing — a bit Nick Drake on songs like "Guilford" but not overly indebted — that often lends a slight edge to the compositions, less a medieval minstrel, say, than a reflective veteran from some strange conflict. While musically acoustic guitar unsurprisingly forms the basis of the arrangements, it's Castro's work on whistles (and on "Music for Mijwiz" that particular wind instrument), Adam Hershberger's on flügelhorn, and Helena Espvall's on flute that actually proves the most distinct element, establishing a continuity song for song and making Further From Grace seem that much more of a unified piece. When set aside from the gentle variations in the songs — the queasy, slightly tripped-out guitars on "Unborn Child," the self-descriptive instrumental "Waltz for a Little Bird" (with jaunty piano from Castro) — the results can be quite enjoyable. The murky, haunting extended coda of treated voices and improvised flute on the opening "Sun Song" gets contrasted against the slightly commanding tone of Castro's voice, each standing out all the more. If Castro's not as dramatic as, say, Brendan Perry from Dead Can Dance, he doesn't need to be, finding the right balance between close, almost tactile recordings — the instruments seem to be sitting right there next to you, such is the quality of the engineering — and a mysterious, removed resolve.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

A member of the new millennium's flock of psychedelic folk revivalists, L.A.'s Nick Castro surrounds himself with a changing lineup of musicians for each expansive, eccentric outing, although he started out practically solo on his debut, A Spy in the House of God. As Castro's backing band has changed, so too has his sound grown and matured. His most finely tuned, fully realized ensemble, the Young Elders, with which he made 2006's gorgeous Come into Our House, consists of members from an array of...
Full bio
Further from Grace, Nick Castro
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