Vetiver, Tight Knit
Reviewing Vetiver’s latest release, Tight Knit, has been a most pleasant experience. Self-classified as “Thrash/Black Metal/Christian Rap”on their MySpace page — proof positive the band does have a sense of humor — the band tends to get tagged as “Freak Folk” or “crippled pigeon music” by reviewers, although most bands within this genre apparently prefer something more along the lines of “Naturalism” or “Naturalismo,” as proposed by Vetiver singer/songwriter Andy Cabic’s musical counterpart Devendra Banhart. To a new listener, it might be described as easy-listening folk-style music with soft and subtle arrangements and vocals.
There’s an element of humility running throughout, which may be traced back to Andy’s seemingly tranquil demeanor. There’s a really nice French interview with Cabic at http://www.hi-nu.com/event/vetiver.php (it’s in English, with French subtitles), if you’re interested knowing more about his life, work, his very first guitar, and the one he tours with — not to mention get a glimpse of his angelic-looking face.
In the album’s first song, “Rolling Sea,” he sweetly sings, “Wouldn’t you like to be out on the rolling sea / What if your friends were there laughing at all your jokes and shit / Wouldn’t that be good? You know it would.” Light, intricate acoustic guitar and arrangements get you thinking, “hell, yeah, that’d be good — and just exactly where are my friends!?” Further on he sings, “Nothing escapes the rolling sea / not the past or you or me.” I can feel the hair against my face as the cool ocean breeze passes me gently…oops, that’s only my bedroom fan; but seriously, it’s fun to dream along with Andy.
“More of This” is a timely upbeat melody, much needed amidst the collection of other rather gentler works, and somehow manages to get me boppin’ along, lifts my spirits, and also happens to be my favorite song on the album. This is one of the few songs that I can literally listen to over and over and over again without any qualms about it — meanwhile possibly annoying any well-meaning vehicle passenger of mine. More likely, I’ll teach them to enjoy such good musical stylings themselves.
“On the Other Side” is a quant narrative of Andy’s aversion to the unnecessary business of being busy in the modern world, not to mention a valuable moral tale. At first listen, though, a proverbial red flag goes up in my mind’s eye. “Wait just a minute here, Andy,” I think to myself — how do you keep so calm at all times? Are you really being true here? Are you not guilty of flipping off the occasional commuter, loudly blowing off steam in a public place, or just all-around freaking out every now and again? Are you so well-behaved that I should take lessons in composure from you? Now, having listened to the song repeatedly, I’ve come to believe that he is being honest and most likely has a very, very calm disposition.
“Sister” is a song where Cabic pleads for his sister to come back home, partly because, “Mom and dad are mad at me…” I can’t help but become attached to this song, as it could very well have been my little brother crying out to me during my recent travels to Colorado, hurriedly leaving Houston, my family, and my friends far behind me.
Tight Knit is guaranteed to lower your blood pressure immediately, or your money back. I highly recommend purchasing this album to drive long distances across the countryside or just chill out on the seashore. When the album comes to an end, I can promise you that you won’t mind replaying it time and again.
And when it comes to album covers, the old adage isn’t always true. I believe that often times you can judge an album by its cover, and so is the case with this diamond. Quality musical creativity is usually reflected in quality artwork. The dark blue, black, and white cardboard bi-fold is well-designed, with starry nighttime constellations and a dense black forest of painted trees all against a background of what appears to be an old school record.
I find the lyrics and music here to be quite heartfelt, well thought-out, honest, and intelligent — qualities oftentimes hard to come by in this age of incessant musical fodder and empty musical calories. Tight Knit proves itself a lyrical memory book worthy of keeping within arms’ reach.