When Tony Dekker debuted Great Lake Swimmers six years ago, comparisons to the exquisite chamber Folk of Nick Drake, Elliott Smith and Neil Young seemed inevitable. Dekker channeled the expansive desolation of his soul into his eponymous GLS album by way of his whispery vocals, sparse accompaniment and unique studio environment (an abandoned and cavernous grain silo), resulting in a powerfully moving and gloriously melancholy work. With a more typical band structure and a healthy dose of reverb on 2005’s Bodies and Minds, Dekker ventured into My Morning Jacket territory while retaining all of the Drake/Smith mope-Folk appeal of his debut. For 2007’s Ongiara, Dekker combined the natural vibe of GLS’s debut with the fuller arrangement of Bodies and Minds, crafting yet another compelling and haunting addition to his impressive canon.
The latest Great Lake Swimmers release, Lost Channels, features a quality that has been largely absent from Dekker’s sonic repertoire: optimism.
Although there are still any number of throat-catching moments, Dekker and his latest iteration of Great Lake Swimmers weave plenty of brighter colors into their sonic tapestry to create an album that actively balances despair with hope and darkness with light.
As lush and bright as Lost Channels seems, though, this is not Tony Dekker’s Prozac album, so don’t worry that he’s suddenly gone chirpingly mad/happy. Great Lake Swimmers still sports an underlying streak of bleak that could sober up a gin-drunk hebephrenic; Lost Channels just shows that Tony Dekker hasn’t lost his perspective while detailing the shadowy fringes of his inner landscape.
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