Talking Machine

by Stephen Warwick

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fred stanfa
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fred stanfa Very unique artist. One song is better than the next. Deep lyrics. Favorite track: Tents.
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01:40
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02:52
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01:24
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04:38
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04:09
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04:18
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04:34
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03:47
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03:48

about

"By way of general description, Warwick marries lo-fi alterna-folk to expansive, subtly orchestral pop, minus the rustic elements of the former and the gilded edges of the latter, in a manner not unlike classic Beck. He's as likely to slip into an off-the-cuff bluesy moment as casting elegant melodic hooks to the wind, and for my money the naturalness with which he does so additionally puts him on a contemporary footing comparable to Bon Iver. For those with even longer memories, what really catches you off guard is the way he recalls the late, great Skip Spence both vocally and musically; play a track like "Talking Machine," a strummy, midtempo number with doubletracked vocals, or the low-key slide-guit boogie of "Unmade Bed" and be transported to the land of Spence and echoes of such shambling classics as "Little Hands" and "All Come to Meet Her." Talking Machine carries that same sense of unearthing an out-of-the-blue gem that Spence's Oar did that all those years ago.

But even though Warwick seems to have feet planted in several eras all at once - literally, as a good deal of his subject matter details in both veiled and direct manner his appreciation for/obsession with images from the Depression period - he's also intensely focused in his manner of presentation. That's a by-product of his above-mentioned perfectionist streak, no doubt, although it's remarkable that a product so fussed-over comes across so spontaneous and organic. The 11 songs here flow naturally from one mood to the next, like when the lush, mandolin/guitars climax of "Evening" dissolves into amp hum and cricket noises only to shift suddenly into the strummy syncopation of "Marlena," a joyous slice of twangy power pop whose own climax soon beckons by way of trumpet (which, it should be noted, is featured prominently throughout the album), whistles and jews-harp. Or the way raspy, raveup rocker "Tents" hands directly off to the good-timey "Plans" and dares you not to get your ass up and dance. One moment a jarring juxtaposition; the next, a hearty slap on the back; the point is to get the listener's attention and hold it, and that's exactly what Talking Machine does. You needn't press the "shuffle" button." - Fred Mills, BLURT MAGAZINE

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released October 1, 2010

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Stephen Warwick Charlotte, North Carolina

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