I’ve previously mentioned that when Steven R. Smith is on guitar, I’m listening. No matter what pseudonym he’s under (Ulaan Passerine, Ulaan Khol, Ulaan Markhor, Hala Strana) there’s bound to be cinder and ash woven between the frets. This time, though, there’s no name but his own on the marquee, and the announcement comes today for the release of A Sketchbook of Endings, his first solo album under his given name in eight years. The first cut from the LP is haunted by the same ghosts that walked the lands of this year’s Ulaan Passerine offering – driven by somber strings, hounded guitars, and the feeling of gaunt hunger and the edging panic that’s at the root of his recent body of work. “Everything in Circles” is defiant as well, a hardened resolve barrels through its being, rising with the winds through the song’s resilient swells. In many of Smith’s pieces there’s the feeling of being pursued, but here he flashes his own teeth in a moment of tremendous turnabout that feels like a turning tide. The LP lands at Soft Abuse in May.
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