Music Review: Schooner “Neighborhood Veins”

by Douglas Cowie on 5 November 2013

SchoonerSchooner Neighborhood Veins Potluck Foundation

Halfway through the third or fourth listen of the opening track of this excellent album, I nearly got overwhelmed by its magic balance of soaring beauty and heartbreak.  The effect is simple in principle and difficult in execution: smart and emotionally invested lyrics meet multilayered music based on old school rock ‘n’ roll songwriting that borrows freely from country traditions. We’re talking the lessons of the 1950s and 1960s here, people, but don’t let me mislead you into thinking this is some kind of retro project: the music is as twenty-first century as the interference in your speakers from an incoming text message. Songs build and swell, and they fade away; they recede to a single instrument as they blend into the next one, and the next wave builds all over again.  Schooner’s music celebrates the life it’s living even while acknowledging the difficulties and pains it has to endure: “I must go now/ to wade through clothes / that have no bodies, / but there is hope. There is hope.” The small and perfect baritone sax part on “Still in Love” might be worth the price of the album just on its own, and if it isn’t, it at least tells you what you need to know about how much the band’s paying attention to the details and textures of its arrangements. Neighborhood Veins has been a long time coming—the last full-length Schooner album was Hold on Too Tight in 2007, and the last thing longer than a single was the EP Duck Kee Sessions in 2010—but lord, don’t you love it when, in the midst of your agony of looking for so long out the window, the friend you’ve been waiting for finally turns the corner and comes down the street towards your house? And when she gets there, the love you share is even bigger than than the last time you were together?

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