Breaks in the Sun (04.09, Badman)
Byline: Fragile Americana via Portland.
For: Norfolk & Western's "Unsung Colony", Neil Young, The Devil Whale
When people ask me who my favorite artist/musician is I unequivocally say Neil Young. The reason being is that I have had more goosebumps per song ratio then any other artist. His song "War of Man" scared the hell out of me as a kid, I would listen to it over and over, reading the lyrics; my chubby little legs crossed in Indian style in front of the speaker. Neil Young lays his emotional life bare in almost every song, he doesn't care if he sounds cheesy, overly romantic, or if he can't find the perfect word to complete the couplet or make a striking metaphor. Neil Young says what is in his heart, the content matters more than the delivery. I am sure you are waiting for an analogy...and here it is. Weinland's principal songwriter and singer, Adam Shearer, puts his fragile little heart out there in his delicate little songs. His delivery is a mix between Neil Young's reedy whine and Sam Beam's hushed whisper, with his lyrical content ripped straight from his most personal journals. Shearer's delivery is more compelling than say, his content, which deals primarily with melancholy subjects as distance, love spurned, and a sense of self deprication that makes every sad song sound like you are intruding on something very private. Weinland's unoffical member and resident Portland multi-instrumentalist, Adam Seltzer has his mitts all over this, helping to craft lilting songs that keep all the players perfectly in their place. It isn't suprising at all to find violins, singing saw, as well laptop steel hidden in every nook and cranny of each unassuming song. Unlike Neil Young however, these guys rocking out is pretty polite, more distortion on the guitars than the pretty folk songs. Unfortunately, there is no Wield, or "Cinnamon Girl" here. I've seen Weinland play twice, once opening for Norfolk and Western, the other at a charming free show at Slowtrain. For a city known for it's subdued take on American folk music it is hard to say how Weinland stands apart. I guess it is the intangibles, the feeling that each song is familiar and reassuring, like the way people from Eastern Europe say "my friend" after giving you directions at the gas station. A perfect companion piece for moods that make living in Portland sound appealing, like rainy days and tree lined coasts.