Part indie rock fatalist, part dreamy psych poet, part Americana folk troubadour. The Earthly Frames mastermind Gabriel Walsh wears many hats stylistically on his new album Taped Over. The Maryland-based artist has crafted a record that takes a blunt look inward with emotionally revealing verses and contemplative hooks that leave you pondering long after the words have left his mouth. Walsh also wears many hats in the studio performing vocals, bass, guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, harmonium, and drums. Filling out the sound are a host of other collaborators: Neil FitzGibbon on fiddle, Daire Mulhearn on accordion, David Stone on Uilleann Pipes, Mike Ballard on harmonica, Nikola Ristevski on trombone, Mike Damnjanovski on tuba, Maria Grigoryeva on violin and Lyudmila Kadyrbaeva on cello. The record has a sauntering pace and presents the interesting dichotomy of reflective immediacy.

The opener ‘My Worst Self’ is a “taking stock” track where Walsh revisits the times that his undesirable instincts have taken over. Walsh views it almost like an out-of-body experience where he can watch himself as he makes these bad decisions but is powerless to stop them. The mandolin and lilting guitars add a bluegrass melancholy to the leading track.

The woozy tremolo guitar on ‘A Few Steps’ conjures the sway of a late-night country evening slow-dance under the stars. ‘Stay Strangers’ chiming arpeggios infuse a Byrds-like psychedelia into the mix as strings round out the song’s hazy outro. ‘Dying Yet Gaming’ delves into the tedium and exhaustion that can overwhelm a life with the strongly affecting line “Dying takes much longer than I thought”. The song takes on an Elliot Smith mood combining devastating lyrics with gorgeous melodies.

The album standout ‘Pixels’ features earnest guitar strums reminiscent of Link Wray’s rowdy rocker ‘Rumble’ with a dark western timbre. Walsh’s voice occasionally hits those exaggerated trippy wails of a Revolver-era Lennon, boosted by plumes of cascading reverb. Organ and guitar link in harmony and then lift off in countermelody over the muted push and pull of the drum kit. A beautiful confluence of Walsh’s influences and instrumental talents.

Taped Over fuses Americana and psychedelia seamlessly to create an airy vibe of contemplation. Many parallels to the work of Neil Young over the years without ever actually sounding like Neil Young. Walsh orchestrates a flowing piece, shifting from scene to scene while keeping the listener enraptured in his wistful aura.


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