[INDIE FOLK] Bon Iver's Justin Vernon certainly isn't the only musician to ever hole up in a secluded hunting cabin in the middle of the woods to write an album. Portland's Ed Thanhouser, the "Ed" of Ed & the Red Reds, embarked on a similar path two years ago, spending a marathon week in a house in the Deschutes National Forest amid a snowstorm to craft his latest six-song EP, The Liar's Dream. In essence, it's a loose concept album dealing with the loss of identity and follies of innocence that's embellished with subtle acoustic picking and an atmospheric undercurrent of brass and strings.
It opens with warm electric guitar, brushed drums and ebbing violin, and finishes with slide and loose piano. A familiar, folksy palette of songs punctuate the time in between, most of which finely showcase Thanhouser's plainspoken existential crisis. Both movements of the title track recall his previous work, with the eerie instrumental "The Liar's Dream (Part II)" wavering amid hushed conversations and rolling acoustic guitar reminiscent of Kaki King's earlier work (sans the whole flamenco thing). "Hellp" is the album's cornerstone, with Thanhouser singing "And all of us, what are we?/ Are we evil, are we free?" above light strumming and the clamor of handclaps. The song transitions into an almost ragtime breakdown, providing one of the more unexpected and gratifying moments on the album. It's not particularly groundbreaking. It's captivating enough to leave you yearning for more.
SEE IT: Ed & the Red Reds play Mississippi Studios, 3939 N Mississippi Ave., with the Desert Kind and Hip Hatchet, on Wednesday, June 4. 9 pm. $5. 21+.