Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lee Ranaldo

Between the Times and the Tides


Sometimes simple is the most complex of all. Sometimes straightforward can wind down many paths. What Ranaldo has done here is release a verse-chorus-verse album, in other words a conventional adult rock album. But it’s great. It has a lot to say about life and love, and all it’s complexities. It’s set against a wall of guitars, with almost every sound and noise imaginable that can be fit into a standard rock format.

Everyone knows how Lee plays wonderfully, and he lets his guitars do the talking, along with a band that is Nels Cline, Alan Licht and John Medeski, with Irwin Menken on bass, Steve Shelley on drums, with appearances by Jim O’Rourke and Bob Bert. Which also makes this something of an extension of a Sonic Youth album, but the songs here are also a logical progression from Lee’s songs on SY’s The Eternal. While the overall sound is not a din of noise, the guitars and the rest of the instruments sound is heavenly, a sprawling, yet organized heaven, fierce yet controlled.

But the lyrics are gentle, like on “Fire Island (Phases)” a meditation on the place, and “Lost,” which is also about being found as well. And while these lyrics also contain some darkness, it’s the contrast between shadow and light that also move the album just like the music. If SY is indeed over, and this album marks the start of a permanent solo career, it couldn’t be any better than this.

Andrea Weiss

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