Posted: August 17, 2020 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , ,

“Bile and Bone” is the new album from songwriter al Riggs and guitar annihilator Lauren Francis.

Two years in the making, and in between countless side-projects, singles, side-albums, and a premiere at Hopscotch Music Festival 2019, Al and Lauren recorded this nine-song album in two different New York apartments, an apartment in Durham, a house on the other side of Durham, and additional recording in yet another house on yet another side of Durham.

The track represents a somewhat different approach to writing for al, as they explain, “the song was a collection of lines and ideas I had for other songs…I started putting them together and it felt like creating a thrift store or pawn shop out of these ideas, so the song became about a pawnshop”. After an initial scepticism at its originality, Lauren Francis came to love the track, “at first I was like, damn this sounds like This Year by The Mountain Goats, but that’s a good thing. I wanted to make it our own…this has since become my favourite track because it’s so simple“.

Musically, like the best collaborations, this feels like the coming together of two musical worlds. Al’s background as an acoustic songwriter merges with Lauren’s contributions of guitar, piano, and, as she explains, after the pair debated the introduction of full- drums, “I added the bass drum loop just to give it some momentum”. The resultant track seems to exist in almost two different paces, al’s easy vocals and the meandering piano line seem to watch the world go round, while the prominent pulse of bass-drum throughout adds a certain urgency to proceedings.


Swaths of strings and electric piano are cut through by chunky acoustic guitar that sometimes teeters on the intrusive. Flirtations with soft rock (“Werewolf”) motorik pop (“Boyfriend Jacket”) and Eno-esque ambient balladry (“Apex Twin”) sit snugly against the ghosts of Fahey (“Dying Bedmaker Variations”) and the dust-clogged remnants of a pawnshop (“Love Is An Old Bullet”).

The title track is a shuffling climax of held-back fury, summarizing the overall air of the album with volatile lyricism (“I should not be in a place/where I am on my knees each night/praying for my leaders/to be shot down on sight”) with classic pop harmonies provided by Rook Grubbs (Vaughn Aed).

Love is An Old Bullet will to some be a beautiful introduction, and to those who know already, a further reminder that the combination of Al and Lauren might just have made one of the year’s most compelling records.

“Bile and Bone” is out September 18th via Horse Complex Records

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