By Eric Hughes
Editor in Chief
Band: The Singleman Affair
Album: Silhouettes at Dawn
Release Date: February 8, 2011
I’ve spent a lot of time this past week or so digesting The Singleman Affair’s new album, Silhouettes at Dawn, and it isn’t simply a matter of not having anything else to listen to. In fact I do, or could, but I didn’t think it wise to break away from The Singleman Affair too soon. And for me that hasn’t happened in awhile. Since Return of the Century, at least.
Is a week’s worth of listening too much? Not enough? Who the hell knows. What I do think, though, is it’s best to take things easy sometimes. You know, recognize the leisure in what’s ahead and then own it.
This is exactly the kind of attitude I brought with me going into The Singleman Affair’s new one after coming off an enthusiastic set of their’s at The Whistler. I didn’t want to rush myself, but allow the album to — hopefully — organically grab hold of me the way their live show did.
Well. I’ve totally fallen for Silhouettes at Dawn, and I think my love for it has only deepened with each trip on the El or walk along Southport during our gorgeous, pre-Spring nights here in the Chi.
Silhouettes is lovely and beautiful, and is most memorable to me for putting so much weight on the raw animal that it is. It’s polished, thorough and was probably outlined and arranged like heck, and yet there’s something unmistakably unrehearsed about it that keeps me coming back for another round.
As much as I like the album wholly, there’s a magic about the latter half of the 10-track collection that spoke more to me. Perhaps the best five-tune punch I’ve heard, again, in some time.
The section begins with the album’s most accessible track, “Same Sky I See,” a song so peppy (by Singleman Affair standards) that I think the reason I find myself zoning out on or mostly skipping over “She Said She Had Somewhere to Go” isn’t because of my intolerance of its stillness, but because I know “Same Sky I See” will be next.
I have trouble picking favorites, but sometimes I find it helps ground a review. You know, figure out what you respond to most and then build off that point. (Or, you know, introduce it 400 or so words in). For me, that track would probably be “Asleep on the Ground.” It’s profoundly pretty, with breaks set aside for Dan Schneider’s trembling guitar or, even better, a 40-second string and drum pairing that represents some of Silhouettes’ best efforts orchestrally. “Asleep on the Ground” is by no means totally lyric-less, yet the bits without words are just as good as the ones with.
Those instrumental breaks, actually, offer up some of Silhouettes’ most captivating moments. Take “Wings,” which moves along gently — equal parts Dan’s voice and instrumental backup. And then, a minute left to go, the heavens open up, and that keys part lifts off and takes us home.
It’s that well-timed balance, the music working congruently with the words, that sits so well with me.
- The Singleman Affair released Silhouettes At Dawn in February. Buy it on Cardboard Sangria’s website for $10 (mp3/cd) or $15 (vinyl).
- My friend Susan recorded an interview with Dan for her audio blog, Indiesomnia. Listen to Dan talk about his music and hear him perform songs acoustically.