Far too few people will ever hear this record, I know it. This is Americana balladry in its most modern finery, sung with the earnestness of a Springsteen or Tweedy, but thinner slightly warbling more like Bright Eyes, with music as authentic and warm as “The Last Waltz.”
On “The Stage Names,” the Texas band’s third critically acclaimed album, the band has peppered their onetime sparse flavor of alt-country with billowing strings and piano on tracks like “A Girl In Port,” more upbeat and danceable tracks like “A Hand to Take Hold of the Scene” that feel like they could be opening tracks on the latest record from Spoon, and precious orchestral ditties like “Savannah Smiles” cut from the same clothe as Magnetic Fields or The Ladybug Transistor.
Don’t get me wrong, this record isn’t so much derivative as it is conscious of all the great under-appreciated music that has informed it. This is a minor masterpiece, accessible yet specific enough to charm indiephiles and Coldplay fans alike.