March 26th, 2017 | Album reviews

Big Blue
Autumn Tone

Though the title Big Blue may or may not be a nod to the Big Pink of The Band’s legend and lore, Marlon Rabenreither’s style of folky, romantic songwriting—with the slightest tilt of the hat to country music—owes more to Ryan Adams and Whiskeytown, than Robbie Robertson and the boys. Tracks like “Come With Me” and “Analisa Knows” mightily echo Ryan Adams’ particular brand of alt-country Americana where affecting, harmonica-accented melodies mingle with little worlds where the people are all drifters who find solace in each other for an evening or two. Another influence comes out to play on songs like “The Strangler,” and “St. Vincent De Paul’s,” which you can practically envision Bob Dylan performing. Riddle-like couplets (“We were never lovers / We were more than friends), and the very “Girl From The North Country” sentiment of “If you see my baby tell her she’s on my mind” make “Deptford High St.” the most obvious bow—and one of the best songs on the album. Big Blue is accomplished, polished and edited without ever getting close to an ounce of the soul or humanity being pressed out of it. It’s the kind of music that makes you feel romantic, bold, bohemian (“If Ever You’re Lonesome” may be the most tender booty-call song of all time), and ready to live a life unattached—in spite of Rabenreither’s explicit warning in “It’s Not Easy.” “It’s not easy when you’re always on your own,” he sings, addressing the loneliness and heartache that too often come from a shambolic existence. “It ain’t easy when you’re always on the run.”

—Madison Desler