[18 March 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Last year’s reissue of David Novick’s home-recorded, eponymous debut introduced fans to Novick’s wobbling, bittersweet acoustic work, a move away from his psych-rock dealings in San Francisco Water Cooler. But if that was introduction, his already-here follow-up is a full-on coming out party. Your Sister’s Hand improves the fidelity some without negating the whispery mood around Novick’s songs. Meanwhile, he provides a varied and fascinating exploration of folk traditions, from the Tacoma-inspired finger-picking work of “Gate” and “Last Moon”, to the somber, meditative tones of “Ash” and the haunting space of “Memory”.
In these moments, Novick’s approach is spare but lush, his voice and guitar spreading out into wide-open space rather than curling in like a bedroom recording. Accented by guitar tones or lonesome viola, these songs take on a deep emotional resonance. They also set up a bittersweet juxtaposition to the warm, smoldering haze of “Beneath the Line” or the title track. Your Sister’s Hand gives us a clearer conduit to hear Novick’s dynamic voice and a more expansive, stronger set of tracks to put that voice on display, along with his excellent guitar playing and melodic structures. Intimate and split wide-open, this is a record worth wandering through.