Three tracks into Marigolds, San Francisco-based folk poppist Ryan Auffenberg uses Morse code-like blips of static and waves as a percussive element, layering them alongside vibraphone and drums to create a rhythmic bed for his floaty vocals to rest on. The song, “Interstate”, is an ode to summer road trips and leisure time (“Just name the time and place / And an afternoon we’ll waste”), and the sonic textures perfectly set the mood—the static comes in and out with the rhythm of passing cars and Auffenberg’s voice drifts out to the expansiveness of a sky over a convertible.
Throughout Marigolds, his debut LP, Auffenberg proves himself adept at setting mood—without being at all old-timey, the whole album conjures a sepia-tinged and almost rueful invocation of the sideways angle of sunlight as late summer afternoons taper into evenings, and of the feelings associated with those times. No, this isn’t the first time you’ve heard a singer-songwriter described in similar terms, nor will it be the last, but the assurance with which Auffenberg delivers his wistful, shimmer-adorned songs carries him at times into the higher echelons of folk singer-songwriters. With any luck, this assured skill at writing evocative and engaging songs will carry Auffenberg even further in the years to come.