Belly of the Lion (Western Vinyl, 11.09)
For: Damien Jurado, Bowerbirds, Woods
Byline: Cinematic tales filled cautious optomisim and nostalgia from renowned film composer David Wingo.
It is no wonder David Wingo writes his songs like a director staging a carefully composed shot. After composing scores for David Gordon Green and recently Jared Hess, Wingo under his Ola Podrida moniker has released a quiet stunner of an album, his sophomore Belly of the Lion. For all intents and purposes, Wingo is not an expressionist, his stories and characters are shot on location, in abandoned bathroom stalls, your dads basement, and backyard pools. Picking up on themes of childhood memories and cautious optimism, Wingo weaves his memories and real world spatiality to compose delicately crafted tales rife with cinematic lushness and detail.
Not straying far from accomplished songwriters Damien Jurado and Jim White, Wingo wraps his mes-en-scenes around conservative amounts of acoustic guitars and banjoes that occasionally reach a crescendo and sometimes canter confidently through a track worth of memory tapes. When the expected emotional payoff-cum-ramshackle chorus hits, it isn't dripping with the contrived emotion of a barely taped-together run away train of wide-eyed catharsis. Wingo allows his tight instrumentation and woozy shoegaze major chord riffage (displayed in "Monday Morning") to speak for his warbled, already strained voice. Such a move makes an already dangerously emotionally charged album palatable and even makes the emotion palpable.
This isn't to say Wingo can't speak with tongues-o'-fire. His missionary like zeal in "Donkey" comes very close to "King of Carrot Flowers Pt. II" territory. Most of the album, however, takes a more subdued tone. The nostalgia of "Your Father's Basement" recalls with equal fondess making prank calls, looking for your dads stash of nudie (huh, there is no way to spell that) magazines and booze, to listening to rap to impress your friends hot older sisters. "Lakes of Wine" and "This Old World" are a montage of possible memories or imagined possibilities of skinny dipping, kidnapping, and mysterious notes found by a roadside.
Recorded (mostly) by himself in his apartment, Belly of the Whale, is an inviting, intimate step into the world of Ola Podrida which is a lot like a David Gordon Green film. A recognizable place and time with just enough poetic incongruities to make the recognizable seem a little bit mysterious and eerie, but nevertheless real.