John Wolfington: American Dreamsicle

[18 October 2007]

By D.M. Edwards

A few years ago, I became a bit obsessed with some of the lesser known artists on the SLR roster. The label seems to specialize in economical, natural hues and rhythms. Real music, if you will—having a distinctive edge familiar to the descendants of the Velvets. In particular, Fuck’s “Panties Off” and Christina Rosenvigne’s “Expensive Shoes” were impossible to get out of my mind. I also kept returning to a track called “Ageless Sky” by John Wolfington. Now Wolfington is back with a powerful new album, demonstrating how a tight band can seem relaxed while creating real intensity. Solid songwriting, direct lyrics, un-flashy production, and minimal overdubs add up to a deceptively simple, wonderfully consistent, accessible record; enjoy one song here, and you can reliably expect to like them all.

Devoid of hype, and of any fashionably superficial layering of found/manipulated sound, American Dreamsicle deserves your attention. The relatively lush “Walk” resembles a sketch of the glacial glory that was The Blue Nile circa Hats. Neil Young would not be displeased had he recorded the title track, nor would Morrissey. Guitar- based pieces are supplanted with piano-based ones, by way of muted contrast. The slippery yet precise “Like You Love” is the cautionary centerpiece of the album, a #1 smash hit in my alternative universe. Wolfington even has enough conviction to carry off a nostalgic track called “Mother” and make it affecting. Despite the fact that by the end, he sounds exhausted by the effort of drawing from a well of melancholy, I trust John Wolfington will prosper and return. Some of us are listening intently.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/john-wolfington-american-dreamsicle/