RIP Ornette Coleman, 1930-2015
I was pretty happy when Jim O’Rourke’s new LP Simple Songs showed up in today’s mail. (I tried to take a photo of the record cover, which has this glossy-embossed-Jim-visual-echo-of-the-cover-to-Halfway-to-a-Threeway-thing going on, but it was too glossy, the cover, so here’s the Drag City packing tape that sealed the package):
I’ve already lauded Simple Songs here, based on listening to it dozens of times on NPR last week. Even though the streaming quality wasn’t so bad (and I played it over a proper stereo system), it simply isn’t as good as the full rich sound on the vinyl. (As I write this, I realize that I have a tendency, like many people, I’m thinking, to listen to too much new music digitally, over streaming services or as shitty compressed mp3s, or—even worse!—on YouTube. I think O’Rourke’s songwriting, musicianship, and production can withstand these new technologies, but I’ve also been a huge fan of his for, jeez, 20 years now, so I’m compelled to listen to his work much more closely than, say, New Band with mp3).
Simple Songs is beautiful: Rich, full, personal, and somehow expansive at only eight songs in 33 minutes. O’Rourke seems to have structured the album like a 1970s singer-songwriter record—the sequencing is perfect, with each side culminating in moments that synthesize O’Rourke’s cynicism with real pathos. Worth the long wait.
The LP contains a lyric sheet, as well as the album’s personnel:
I’m thinking that some of these guys are playing with O’Rourke in this concert from last year (I’m pretty confident that Yamamoto Tatsuhisa is on drums):