[22 November 2006]
Imagine Eric Chenaux sitting in his rocking chair on the last back-porch on planet Earth, plucking at his banjo and crooning to the moon, full of sweet regret and wistful sighs of resignation, as—over on the horizon—the whole sordid shithouse of Western civilisation goes up in flames. That’s the vibe of Dull Lights, an enchanting yet somehow unsettling collection of ragged banjo scrabblings, country drone-folk, and fishermen’s tales. There’s something unmistakably valedictory about these laments, with Chenaux’s quiet, intimate voicings and just out-of-reach lyrics tinged with a sad-eyed longing—made all the more fragile and helpless by the loose, fractured improv stylings of the accompaniment: pointillist banjo plucks, sighing brush-on-cymbal work, Highland bagpipe dirges for electric guitar, and liquid pedal steel running between your fingers. When the bombs start falling and the hordes are at your door, don’t waste your time hiding or putting up a fight—just slip into that old lumberjack shirt, crack open the bourbon, and put this disc on. Desolation never tasted so sweet.