Upon receiving this new 7″ single that will be Fort Lowell Records‘ contribution to this year’s Record Store Day, I wasn’t sure who the music was by or what it was exactly, other than a blue vinyl object that played music. Okay, I’ll cut the shit: was this a split 7″ featuring two artists: ‘Sno Angel and Melted Wires? No, the artist is a musician named Howe Gelb, who has been recording and releasing music for about 30 years. Are the song titles “‘Sno Angel” and “Melted Wires”? No, those are the names of albums Gelb has recorded, and the two songs here are from those sessions. So let’s clarify:
ARTIST: Howe Gelb
TITLE OF RECORD: ‘Sno Angel + Melted Wires
SONG TITLES: “Spiral” b/w “Cordoba In Slow Motion”
Gelb has done a wide range of music, so one can’t tell what the music will be like on a particular release until they listen. “Spiral” has a folky and smoky vibe to it, very Americana but not all the way country, kind of sounding like a cross between what Shawn Mullins did with “Lullaby” and some of the works of Robbie Robertson over the years. The song sounds and feels like an open wound, if not a private diary entry that you found at a bus stop headed out of town, source unknown. Yet the story it tells is one that you believe in, because it almost feels like you wrote it. In fact, you may have written it in the future, and it’s yourself warning you of what’s to come. Okay maybe not that deep, but it could be, and it comes as a surprise (if you don’t read the credits) that it’s a live recording. Sounds powerful.
The B-side is called “Cordoba In Slow Motion” and while it could be considered a nice compliment to the A-side, its jazzy overtones is perfect enough to stand out on its own merits. Think of the rustic qualities of what groups like Medeski, Martin & Wood and Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey are able to do when they stop the freak-outs and just make music for their immediate circle (i.e. themselves), it feels that intimate and you wish Gelb (on piano) and friends (John Convertino on drums, Thøger Lund on bass, and Jacob Valenzuela on trumpet) could play like this forever, or at least release more singles if not albums.
The nice thing is that the songs on ‘Sno Angel + Melted Wires may contradict each other musically and sonically, but that’s fine. I rather hear something like this than hear a complete carbon copy that makes me never want to pick this out of the box again. I want to hear Gelb again and again, and it is sure to move new fans to discover his back catalog.
(‘Sno Angel + Melted Wires will be available for Record Store Day on April 16th. If not at your favorite vinyl shindigs, you can pre-order a copy or two directly from Fort Lowell Records.)