As Chris Robley’s critically acclaimed 2005 full-length debut proved, there will always be room for one more inventive multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter with a passion for telling tales from the dark side of life. The Portland, Oregon, native’s second solo offering Drunken Dance of Modern Man in Love mines a similarly bleak vein (acquaintances don’t call him “the Stephen King of indie pop” for nothing) but this time around he’s in a more expansive mood musically with an eclectic array of instruments ranging from sleigh bells to vibraphone, mellotron to Baldwin explorer providing the hook-laden orchestration for his intimate story-songs to hang upon. Listen carefully on the jazzed-up country-gothic standout “Culture Jammer”, or the equally excellent Tom Waits-ish south-of-the-border gypsy waltz “Centaurea”, and between the joyous bursts of Mariachi trumpets (all courtesy of a four-tracked James Gregg) and gently plucked banjo, poetic narratives of death’s shadowy life-affirming presence rise up to greet you.
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// Notes from the Road
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