Feeling lonely? That’s okay
Everyone feels lonely at some point. Often it’s born of sadness, but not always; sometimes people just need to be pensive, other times they feel the need to distance themselves from the people they’ve been around. Lee Ranaldo’s Electric Trim is an album comprised of tunes that capture the feeling of loneliness and all the thoughts coupled with it.
In addition to sounding like a lonely man’s album, these songs are at home at either a front porch in a rural area or a small, jazz club-like venue. Ranaldo doesn’t aim for flash or wide appeal, but instead excels at creating music for a smaller crowd, one who longs for emotional connection over catchiness.
Nearly every track has a standout feature to it, if not more. “Moroccan Mountains,” the opener, has a Close Encounters feel to it, with a chord in the first few seconds that BOOM, hits strong amidst some ambient guitar work, and damn the guitars sound incredibly full and rich throughout the song (a surprising 7:30 running time). “Uncle Skeleton” follows with a slightly more upbeat feel and less folksy sound, but it is overshadowed by its neighbor, “Let’s Start Again.” Coupled with the most fitting title of the bunch, it has a “been knocked down” feel from the outset, and is one of the most lonely sounding of them all. Subtle horns add a little garnish to the mix, and the lyrics leading it all are particularly beautiful: “It’s hard to say about the sane ones/They fall apart like everyone else.” It’s possibly the best song on the album.
“Last Looks” is a comfortingly peaceful track featuring Sharon Van Etten, one that makes for excellent relaxation music. However, the tranquil vibe is killed when Ranaldo starts talking instead of singing — not a bad part of the song, but it contradicts the feel that was previously set up. Following it is “Circular Right as Rain,” which is easily the least impressive or memorable track. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really get better after a second or third listen.
The second contender for best song on the album is “Electric Trim,” which has an enchanting minor feel and two bar chord progression and makes for perfect pensive wandering music. Some standout lyrics are, “Well are you scared of a human love?” and the last line, “Never getting the last word/no/not at all.” “Purloined” has the single catchiest chorus of the entire album, and the background guitar gets better and better each time. “Thrown Over the Wall” is a similarly pensive song, though not as memorable. Yet less memorable is the closer “New Thing,” featuring country-sounding vocals that are a little off-putting.
Overall, it’s a solid album, with the middle and ending tracks as the weakest points. It gets both better and more emotional with successive listens. And on top of it all, the cover art fits the mood of getting lost and feeling lonely.