A one-man-band can be its own worst enemy. As opposed to solitary singer/songwriter acts, the one-man-band can often get lost in a cacophony of multi-instrumentation, loops, and vocal effects. Revelstoke, the name of Toronto-based act Andrew Seale, walks that line between convoluted and beautiful in his most recent EP – My-O- My.
This is Revelstoke’s second output, his first LP, Espirit d’Escalier, was released last year. The most recent EP is very much an extension of the sound he laid out in his inaugural offering. Seale is a doing a little less whispering vocals and the songs are a bit more complex. Still, if you enjoy mildly melancholic songs and…let’s say…watching autumnal leaves spiral down to the ground on a crisp fall day…you will probably be happy.
The opening track sounds like it could have come off of the first album; save for the production on the vocals is cleaner and louder. Seale’s voice coupled with the sparse instrumentation lends “Colony Collapse Disorder” a haunting Jeff Buckley element. The lyrics also aid in this effect, “Growin’ out my hair because I want to be a ghost.”
From here the album lifts in tempo but is still locked in a nostalgic-longing. “San Sebastian” is a cold day at the beach strum along and reveals the album’s clearest vocals. The lyrics and chorus are in lockstep with Seale’s pathos: “When I get old I’m going to go where the summer ends.”
“Dan La Mar” is a charming, nautical-sounding song. Seale’s one-man-band talents shine on the 4-minute track. It opens with the cadence and harmonica of a sea shanty. His vocals are some of the cleanest on the album and reveal a tenor much like Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. As the songs floats along Seale folds in xylophones, harmonica, strumming and a multitude vocal loops that take the tune on a nice departure from the album’s set course.
“It’s Flawed Because it’s True” closes the album in much the same vain we have seen throughout. The album’s only horns make their appearance and fill in a nice space for the song. Its refrain feels much like other lines we have heard and could have easily been dropped into any one of the other tracks, “Tear the statues down.”
In the end, My-Oh-My does what an EP is sometimes designed to do. It gives listeners a taste of what direction the artist is moving – be that a blazing a new trail or mining the same well. That said, given the brevity and inoffensiveness of My-Oh-My some listens will eat it up and feel satiated while other will be hungry for much more.