Hirsch tackles the daunting task of follow his excellent sophomore album Lost Time Behind The Moon with the ease of a songwriter who’s spent years honing his craft. The previous album codified his mix of narcotic, 3 AM boogie and sundown country calm. He doesn’t deviate too heavily from that setup, but begins to bold the lines and darken the shading on the portraits of hubris and hurt that he sketches out. Getting back into the fogged streetlight glow from the onset, Hirsch cracks the tab on a couple of Cale-flecked rumblers from the outset, letting the listener onto the pavement to breath neon and beer with the wrecked-denim delivery of “Spirit True,” and “Much Too Late.” While the first employs a classic cult of horns and a pelvic pulse, the second nails the album’s core, trading out the ecstatic bravado of the opener’s Stones-ian backup coos for a nail-greased desperation that feeds off of the darkness. “It’s a little too late to die honest dirt,” Hirsch intones with a winking numbness. Our sins have come to collect and he’s her to remind us that it won’t matter when the bill is due.
The other side of those late night lacerations is Scott’s cold-water shaves that find him tracing the sun over the horizon, inhaling the day, healing the twilight wounds. In these moments (“Dreamer, “Love Is Long”) there’s a sense that the drive of the album might find peace, but it’s fleeting. At its core, Windless Day has a sense of motion to it, a kind of wanderlust that’s tracing the beam of the headlights out into the brush, down the darkened streets lit only by liquor signs, following the sun’s quiver to finds the source of its scorch. Its clear that Hirsch is vibrating along the cosmic American leyline, finding his way between Cale, Leon Russell, and Buckley’s sex-funk period. But between the smoke-curl swagger and sober-side country he’s also threaded the night-vision instrumental “Redstone” and the morning drizzle of “Drummer of Shiloh,” giving the album a quiet meditation that lets the white line take over and the darkness and light collapse into oblivion just for a moment. Windless Day makes good on any and all promises that its predecessor laid out, proving that while Hirsch is a consumer producer and sideman, he also often saves the best for himself.
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