Shabason, Krgovich & Harris - Philadelphia Music Album Reviews

Shabason, Krgovich & Harris - Philadelphia Music Album Reviews
In drifting arrangements for saxophone, keyboards, and contemplative vocals, the trio invents a singular style of shipwrecked yacht rock that’s well suited to the strange pace of 2020.

Joseph Shabason, Nicholas Krgovich, and Chris Harris’ Philadelphia owes less to the American metropolis than to a song about it. To complement the ethereal soft rock they recorded together over three days in Toronto last fall, the Canadian trio opted to cover Neil Young’s 1993 hymn “Philadelphia,” which originally appeared on the soundtrack for Jonathan Demme’s namesake AIDS-themed drama, but was largely overshadowed by Bruce Springsteen’s Grammy-winning “Streets of Philadelphia” single from the same film. The song is a classic Neil alone-at-the-microphone tearjerker, a private prayer for the City of Brotherly Love to live up to its nickname during a moment of weakness and loneliness. That plea for community struck a deep chord with the trio, who decided to make their “Philadelphia” cover the title track on a record rooted in familial bonhomie and mutual support.
In one sense, Shabason, Krgovich & Harris’ Philadelphia is a faded snapshot of a pre-COVID world. But if the project’s origin story seems blissfully removed from the world of political tumult, pandemic anxiety, and endless doomscrolling that we inhabit today, the record is also uncannily timely; you’d be hard-pressed to find an album that more vividly conjures the equally disorienting and liberating effects of putting your life on pause. This is the sound of your brain on lockdown: You’re languishing in your apartment for days on end and losing all sense of time and place, yet you’re noticing wondrous new details in things you’ve stared at a million times before, and finding pride and purpose in the most menial of daily routines.

Shabason is no stranger to exploring these sorts of Zen states. As a guest saxophonist for Destroyer and the War on Drugs (and prolific composer in his own right), he has helped steer indie rock into smoother waters over the past decade, blurring the lines between adult-contemporary pop and avant-garde experimentation. On Philadelphia, Shabason, Krgovich & Harris arrive at their own singular style of shipwrecked yacht-rock, retaining all the shimmering surfaces but trading any wave-crashing forward motion for free floatation. They let these songs drift wherever they need to go, as the glassy synth tones, wandering piano lines, and fluttering flutes accumulate around the melodies like so much water-logged debris. Like their compatriot Sandro Perri, Shabason, Krgovich & Harris understand the fine art of unhurried busyness, maintaining a calm sense of stasis even as their surroundings change considerably.

While Philadelphia is of a piece with Shabason’s past work, it’s somewhat uncharted territory for Vancouver singer/songwriter Krgovich, who over the past two decades has cultivated a reputation as a wry romantic in the Stephin Merritt/Jens Lekman mold. (Harris—who plays guitar, synth, and percussion here—has occasionally served as his sideman over the years, dating back to Krgovich’s late-2000s outfit, No Kids.) Philadelphia provides an especially stark point of contrast to Krgovich’s most recent solo release, “Ouch”, which chronicled a real-life breakup in discomfiting detail. But on Philadelphia, he relishes the opportunity to free himself from traditional verse/chorus/verse songwriting; he also redirects the gaze away from his personal life to the world around him, delivering his lyrics with all the patient poeticism of Bill Callahan returning from a yoga retreat.

Over the wind-chime synths of “Osouji,” Krgovich gradually unfurls a song that’s both as mundane and profound as the annual Japanese house-cleaning ritual for which it’s named: “Moving furniture, wiping baseboards, the radio on,” he details; “I’m seeing things that have been here/And considering them.” From there, he talks us through the rest of his day, right up to his pre-bedtime rituals, until he actually drifts off before completing the song’s final verse (“Falling asleep at night, falling ahhhhh…”). It’s a reminder that even the most uneventful days are a gift. But if “Osouji” is a day-in-the-life chronicle, then the epic “I Don’t See the Moon” is pure dreamtime wonderment, harnessing the glacial pace, open space, and jazzy informality of late-period Talk Talk into an eight-minute swoon.

Philadelphia abounds with these moments of intense contemplation and quiet rapture, and their celestial, sax-sweetened version of Neil’s namesake track fits snugly into its meditative milieu. But the album finds its clearest philosophical articulation in “Friday Afternoon,” an ambient serenade that’s part ’80s lite-FM ballad, part pedal-steeled Lynchian torch song. Stuck in a traffic jam caused by “a dusty mini-van with the hood flipped up,” Krgovich redirects his attention from this “frazzled moment” to gaze at the “pretty sunset” before introducing the song’s oft-repeated motivational mantra: “Wrap your loving arms around it!” As relaxed as it sounds, Philadelphia is also a useful tool for confronting the drama of modern life. Embracing the world with loving arms might also mean grappling with its chaos, but it’s all a means of better appreciating everything that’s still beautiful about it.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Shabason, Krgovich & Harris - Philadelphia Music Album Reviews Shabason, Krgovich & Harris - Philadelphia Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 Rating: 5

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