Saul Conrad’s third album, a tyrant and lamb, is an unassuming affair. No wonder the title is all lower case, as these song feel reticent to label themselves. For one, the album may have a basic singer-songwriter center, but Conrad drifts far away from the expectations that come with that. He toys with clanging piano and huge vocal harmonies on “Carousel”, while “Wool & War” opens up on thumping toms. “Bumbling Fool” is the most forceful moment on the record, weaving blistering guitar work into its kaleidoscopic pop structure. Despite its willful experimentation, a tyrant and lamb is a gentle affair. In particular, Conrad sings quietly here, but manages to be soft without being sleepy on standouts like “Where You Been”, “Wool & War”, and “Ferris Wheel Cody”. Songs like “Special K” and “Hollow” travel a pretty straightforward folk-pop path and, as a result, feel like they slow down the more dynamic tunes here. But as a whole a tyrant and lamb is a good, surprising record, and a good lesson in finding power without overt force or volume.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong on the Internet. Please consider a donation to support our work. We are a wholly independent, women-owned, small company. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing, challenging times where costs have risen and advertising has dropped precipitously. PopMatters needs your help to keep publishing. Thank you.