It’s been a fertile year for New Haven, CT. Between releases from Mountain Movers, Headroom, and now David Shapiro’s Alexander, they’re pushing a few of their best and brightest out into the larger world. Alexander differs from the other two in sheer volume alone. Despite having a role in Headroom, Shapiro trades in none of their Earth crumbling riffs or walls of chaos. Instead, Alexander embraces the Takoma catalog for its homespun take on fingerpicked blues. Though, while Shapiro’s clearly a student of the Fahey, Basho, Kotke school, he’s leaning away from any of the jovial, rambling sunshine that might pervade the fingerpicked set. Instead, there’s a somber meditation to his debut LP that gives it weight even where his fingers dance.
He’s scraping away at the new school pickers that have sprung up before him, honing in on the drones and darkness inherit in Ben Chasny, Daniel Bachman, Richard Bishop and James Blackshaw’s contemporary takes on the spirit of strings. The eponymous LP winds slowly through grey-skied hills, still giving a shade of country side blues, but the countryside is more Scottish hills hued in silver than any sunny American delta. There’s a crispness to the record that begs the listener to pull a coat tight around their shoulders and tuck down into a bottle. Admittedly, that darkness is inviting. As proper debuts go (though he’s got plenty of small formats floating around before this), it’s a fair shot and a welcome voice from a verdant New England scene.
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