Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004
The fourth solo release by graphic artist and Sea and Cake guitarist Archer Prewitt is a passionate ode to romantic melancholy. In the spirit of Jimmy Webb, Prewitt lends mystical qualities to songs that can hold their own on Top 40 radio, highlighting his lush, high tenor rather than his guitar this time, and dipping into a seemingly bottomless well of melodic ideas. Swaying gently to a mournful pedal steel, Prewitt can sound like Gram Parsons at his most introspective; or, changing keys and styles in an onward rush of emotional urgency, he can sound like '60s folk-rock genius Arthur Lee, the man who made psychedelia safe for acoustic guitars.
Most of the songs are carefully arranged and conventionally structured, but sometimes Prewitt gets hold of a phrase he likes and milks it for all it's worth. The insistent guitar pattern that propels "Judy, Judy" is like a fetish; Prewitt aggressively reasserts it in both verse and chorus until it seems to take on a life of its own apart from the song. Using shiny production values and the occasional big effect, "Wilderness" is an intimate work that nevertheless fills the room.