With a sly folk swagger and gravely chops to match the masters, Seth Augustus has created an album somewhere between the laid back ramblings of Tom Waits and the kooky vocals of Captain Beefheart. Opening with “To The Pouring Rain”, Augustus’s dust-bowl folk styling is fit for a wanderer or vagabond from near a century ago.
Such artists seem to have little in common with modern times; instead, they transfer the listener to another point in time. You can hear it not only in the make-up of the song, but in the vocals and lyrics. They’re simple in that they lack expectation and pretension. The steel guitar in songs like “Trickeries Of The Great Emptiness” meld perfectly with the vocal grate.
Augustus further emphasizes these qualities by keeping the recording somewhat lo-fi. The only true elements that bring artists like Seth Augustus into modern times is the sounds that accompany in the background. “Cherry Rose” features an almost experimental guitar, while “Air To The Throne” simply has a more modern-sounding lyrical pattern. Others, like “Big Cocoon”, drop in fuller instrumentation (this one, in particular, adds a most welcome tenor sax solo).
To The Pouring Rain is an album that simply must be experienced. There’s a special quality to the music Seth Augustus that makes it fit for those sweltering summer days — sipping mojitos on front porches of large, dilapidated southern homes, watching the grass die from lack of irrigation. Temperature: topping 105. Sure you can listen to To The Pouring Rain whenever, but there’s something to be said about experiencing it at the proper time and place.
Porto Franco Records [CD, 2010]
1. To The Pouring Rain
2. Trickeries Of The Great Emptiness
3. Cherry Rose
4. Big Cocoon
5. Slim Sam
6. Air To The Throne
7. Convolution Blues
8. Buffalo Eight
9. Tiny Little Head