I’m usually bored half to death listening to a guy sing with a guitar. There are of course exceptions. I’d say it’s a matter of the feeling of uniqueness in some way. Skin Arrangement which is the solo project of Steven Lamfeer is one of those times.
I was impressed in a number of ways by a guy with a guitar. I felt his arrangements on Favorite Enzymes contained unique, unconventional picking patterns. That was initially what attracted me to his music but I also thought his lyrics and vocal melodies weren’t something you hear everyday.
He opens with “You're Supposed to Learn” which creates a vibe he revisits thought the album. It’s haunting, melancholy and quite often beautiful in its own way. The lyrics are ambiguous and felt quite appropriate for the song. Although I thought the vocals could have been a tad bit louder in the mix.
“My Studies” was the song that got my attention and had me thinking that he was bringing inventive picking patterns to the guitar. About half-way through I thought he really starts to showcase his technical chops. Great stuff.
“Thanks for the Distraction” continues with the dark, haunting vibe while “Vermin King Valse” builds off of vocal harmonies that are sprinkled on a couple of songs. As the album progresses it continues along a similar vibe. “Doilyface” was a personal favorite. He does give us a little surprise on the last track “Mannequin Undressing” when he replaces his guitar with a piano.
Lamfeer's ability to find a distinct sound with a solo guitar and vocals is a rarity. It’s not an easy thing to do amongst so many artists. The best part about it is that his style sounds good. His songs do seem to deal with the absurd and the dark qualities may be a little much for those who are used to the highly replicated Jack Johnson type of style. That being said this was right up my alley. If you enjoy artists like Devendra Banhart, NIck Drake and The Tallest Man on Earth this should be a no brainer. Two thumbs up
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