For most of the releases we write about, we use adjectives like ‘energetic’, ‘catchy’, ‘loud’, ‘distorted’, ‘fuzzy’ and ‘powerful’, but none of those apply to Rancho Shalom, the full-length debut album from Evan Kertman. Words like ‘beautiful’, ‘orchestral’, ‘gentle’, ‘melancholic’, ‘comforting’ and ‘imaginative’ better reflect what you can hear here. These are ten baroque country-folk songs on layered, warm arrangements, with poetic storytelling on love and loss, for which Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Evan Kertman (vocals, acoustic guitar, trumpet) teamed up with multi-instrumentalist Aaron M. Olson (bass, guitars, keyboards, melodica, harmonica, vibraphone). Talented musicians Ben Varian (drums), Nicole Calhoun (cello), Danny Echevarria (violin), Allegra Jones (clarinet), Tara Milch (flute) and Tim Ramsey (pedal steel) increased the ambiance even further. You’ll be captivated from the first sentence.
Rancho Shalom is out now digitally, on cassette and vinyl LP through Perpetual Doom. RIYL: David Berman (Silver Jews, Purple Mountains), Bill Callahan, Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Palace Music).