CD / DL
Angel Rivers, aka Yeah Saint Paul, is here with paean to the fairer sex.
One of the nicest things about writing about music is the little surprises that come along every so often and gladden the cynical heart; Women Are Stoned, the debut by Yeah Saint Paul is one of those happy occurrences. Dropping through the mailbox with a plethora of other albums good, bad and indifferent, this one grabbed me almost from the opening notes.
Angel Rivers, sole member of YSP has crafted a deft, smart, 21st century pop record in the best sense of the word. Counting influences such as Julian Cope and Syd Barrett would make one think of whimsy and lysergic indulgence. Not so; Rivers has an ear for the bittersweet, the soulful and the Brill Building classics amid this at times upbeat, at times introspective collection.
Opening song The Good Ones is all swooning chord changes, jazzy drums and striding bassline with Rivers’ plaintive voice leading quite a beautiful melody. Not a bad start at all….
Gold! has some angular riffing atop an odd drum figure and what sounds like some rather swinging double bass. If you’re at all familiar with Howe Gelb’s Giant Sand, this is not a million miles away, particularly Rivers’ smoky, intimate vocals. It just oozes class and it’s alt country feel seems quite at home within the drawling urbanity of the album.
Rivers talks about the women in his life always having been a huge influence and the title refers to the sensitivity and stability of the fair sex rather than a drug reference. Lyrically, the album touches on companionship, sexuality and change. It’s no navel-gazing exercise, however. Rivers exhibits a dry, self-effacing humour throughout and has a turn of phrase that’s a s mature as it is endearing.
A Universe In the Grain sees YSP head in a more idiosyncratic direction with echoes of Beck, Jonathan Richman and Talking Heads in its clockwork rhythm and quirky funk.
Rendezvous opens with some walking bass and distant harmonica figure before Rivers whistling (yes, whistling) part gives way to his clipped, paranoid vocal and acoustic meanderings. There’s a little of late-period Cure in the grooves here, but without the angsty undertones. Not unlike Matt Johnston or Connor Oberst, Rivers has crafted Women Are Stoned in isolation and without recourse to other musicians. His single-mindedness is to be applauded. He’s produced a cracking record that kind of exists in its own sweet isolation.
I’m not sure who the target fan group is, but Hell, I like it a whole lot.
All words by Joe Whyte. More writing by Joe on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive.