Music Review: Organos “Concha”

by Douglas Cowie on 3 April 2012





Organos Concha Potluck Foundation

On the second Organos album, Maria Albani and pals present us with nineteen minutes and eight songs of lilting and melodic music. There’s a casualness to proceedings here, and while that word might imply sloppiness, that’s not at all what I mean; this album is the aural equivalent of a favorite t-shirt or sweater: slipping it on(to the record player) is something you want to do all the time, but also you want to hold it onto for special occasions because, you know, it’s so damn comfortable. Except these aren’t by any means a bunch of blissed-out flowers and birds and sunshine songs.

Let’s look more closely. The songwriting and playing are deceptively simple: basslines lilt between small handfuls of notes, guitars sometimes slide, sometimes stammer, or crackle or whinny, and the vocals stick to a Joan Baez-ly small range of notes (though, I should add, sound nothing like Joan Baez, thankfully). On the second song, “Side Girl,” vocals and handclaps do all the work; it sounds like a folk song that never was, or a folk song that should have been (and now is). On most songs the music and lyrics (“Family isn’t all there is / it doesn’t work and it never did;” “I’m bored / man, I could stay in bed all day”) combine to create a haunting atmosphere that might slide into pathos if it weren’t for an edge of defiance (“It’ll never come if you wait too long”) or hope (“You’ll live inside my heart, love”) in the lyrics and that insupressable urge to melody—the ear for a hook, or sometimes only half a hook—that holds these brief snapshots (the songs range in length from just over a minute to just under three and a half) together.

I said “deceptively simple” back there, and just now I called the songs “brief snapshots”: each song seems to go before its time is totally up—you want to hear more, although even the shortest song sounds complete—and the lyrics give up enough of their meaning without completely explaining themselves away. The songs combine into a collage of various moments: delicate, wistful, angry, longing, and always thoughtful; they creep into your mind until, with the chorus of backing vocals on the just a little bit heartbreaking acoustic song “At the End of the Ride,” you find yourself singing along: don’t go; don’t go.

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