The smoothest cowboy in Brooklyn lets loose with a new album of modern malaise cut with enough humor to pull us all out of the perpetual motion doldrum we’re living out in real time. Recorded with Katie Von Schleicher, the album skirts the conventions of country and Americana. In the same way that Hiss Golden Messenger and Cut Worms have recast the classic amble of confessional troubadours in the last few years, Poole draws himself into that camp — a hangdog hero for our times. Dropping one foot in modern moorings and the other in a bygone era of solitary singer-songwriters scrawling comforts in the pre-dawn light, the works on The Rainbow Wheel of Death feel blissfully out of step with most records working their way out of the speakers in 2023.
Written at home during a stint working remote IT, Poole decamped to Von Schleicher’s childhood home Maryland to record the album, shirking the studio for a more intimate approach that gives the album a holed-up and exiled ‘70s sound. The record has a warmth to it that might have been lost in a need for gloss. While it’s by no means a private press Tascam affair, the record lets its moments bleed into one another with a slightly frayed appeal that’s aided by the band’s live to tape approach. There’s something of Live at The Old Quarter in the DNA of the album, even though there’s no audience with which to crack jokes. The feeling that Poole might make a knock about the lack of air conditioning at any time between songs remains, though. It’s a relaxed record with the feeling of a gathering of friends, the kind of atmosphere that can’t be bought, rented, or recreated on demand. There may not be a more comforting record on the reels this year.
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