Thursday, April 4, 2013

Case Studies "Villain" on Sweet Rot Records

Jessie Lortz is one of those rare individuals who combine fearlessness and talent to produce an intimate folk with just an acoustic guitar and vocals. It’s an easy combination to get tired of under the wrong circumstances, it can too easily be abused and like the comments in youtube - anyone can do it. But his Case Studies immediately falls on the side of being able to pull this off with a raw sincerity. Then again Jessie was one half of the Duchess and the Duke and has been slowly cultivating his quiet, highly personal tracks since the very beginning of his songwriting. For his latest single on Sweet Rot Records, Jessie ended up at his grandfather’s cabin in Montana where he recorded these tracks.

"Villain" pulls you in close; it’s the perfect marriage of vinyl and folk, cranking up the volume to get an imperfect surface noise that grounds this in a very real space. It’s close and alive, the surfaces aren’t deadened for sound reflection, it has the familiar atmosphere of having been captured in a real space. Jessie is right next to you, so close he bumps the mic. The slow, drawn out harmonies are a celebration of country late night truth, like Sam Beam’s deathly slow acoustic strumming, where the individual notes blend together caught in that hole in the wood. There are no effects here, just the simple layers of acoustic, taking two different roads to the melody. Naturally gifted, or hard fought, the songwriting is abstract and somehow speaking to everyone in a heartbreaking way. That relaxed sound of a memory in hushed, close melodies. The slightest tambourine fills the rhythmic gap and this isn't about any real genre or attitude it just transcends the whole idea of ‘getting rich and famous’ and is instead almost a keyhole. Hiking in the woods, coming across an open window in the cabin, and quietly sneaking away.

The B-Side "Dull Knife" doesn’t even need a pop filter, it's heartfelt country starts from a recognizable, damaged place. It’s not a demo or sketch for something else, Jessie is fine with leaving this exactly as it is, a document of this particular place and time. A managed studio would kill everything that’s good about this. His love is likened to a dull knife and strummed rhythms of acoustic stand in for bass blues lines. Soft improvisation from his experienced hand weaves melodies into a deep statement of the barest of materials. Never coming off like a sad home-spun hermit, this is out on the trail, next to a campfire. An ancient rehearsal at work, these feelings have been agonized over before… been turned into song even, but just now we’re being let in on the performance.

Get it from Sweet Rot who says:
Case Studies is the solo project of Seattle's Jesse Lortz, formerly of The Dutchess & The Duke. This is the just the 2nd Case Studies release after the excellent "The World Is Just a Shape To Fill the Night" LP on Brooklyn's Sacred Bones Records, and we feel that these two songs showcase Jesse's ability to write extremely memorable and sincere folk songs. "Villain" is the darker of the two, while "Dull Knife" is a bit more upbeat and while this is one of the more mellow records in the Sweet Rot archive, it's also one of our favourites. Recorded at his grandfather's cabin in Lake Inez, MT. 300 copies pressed.

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