Only once on Ongiara, on the contemplative Passenger Song, is that voice left unchaperoned with an acoustic guitar; for the rest of the album, Dekker is backed by banjo, drums, double bass, organ, and/or string arrangements by Arcade Fire-collaborator Final Fantasy. The strangely stop-start, wax-wane pace of many of these songs reminds me of Nina Nastasia, with whom Dekker shares a country-esque stoical melancholy; but Dekker, described amusingly as a 'pine-gazer' on Allmusic, is more likely to let songs like Changing Colours and I Became Awake swell, often beautifully, into a proper chorus. And although we've seen everything here before, Dekker does it all exceptionally well. That also includes the lyrics, which are a long way above the folk standard 'Oh, it's winter, look at the crows' or 'Wasn't it nice back then with your lovely hair?'; Your Rocky Spine, for example, is an elegant and sustained metaphorical riff on woman's-body-as-mountain-range over an uptempo banjo melody that could be Seven Swans-era Sufjan Stevens. (Although I don't know whether Backstage With The Modern Dancers is just about a modern dance show or whether it's really about, like, regret.) 2007 has been a huge musical disappointment so far, but I don't mean it as a half-compliment when I say that Great Lake Swimmers' slow, moving third LP may be the best thing I've heard this year.
Out now on Weewerk.