Many Places - Another Oath
Record Label: Tandem Shop
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Sometimes all you need is a voice and a guitar.
In the case of Chicago songwriter Kevin Reig, who performs under the name Many Places, that is exactly what dominates his debut effort Another Oath. Guided by crude acoustic guitars, gentle percussion and a host of ambient noises recorded via a field recorder, Another Oath has a definite seasonal vibe to it. Though it veers towards autumnal, there are hints of vernal expression that make for a rewarding listen.
For reasons unknown Reig inserts not one, but three instrumentals on the album. The first is the celestial opener "No One and Everyone," the second is the rustling Midwestern cut "Blankenship," and the last is the wispy "Brontosaurus." Though the entire tactic feels a bit self-indulgent and superfluous, Reig actually makes it work. When he opens his mouth however is when the true magic happens.
First single "Helmet Hug," unravels a yarn about a man at war with himself. It's the kind of song that fans of Modest Mouse or Neutral Milk Hotel will find a kinship with. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Simon and Garfunkel and Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Another Oath actually sounds like a denser version of Iron and Wine. That comparison is most notable on the riveting "Fairplane," and the equally stirring "Gold Leaf." Reig is lucky that he has a voice that has density, that is to say, it conveys an array of emotions in just a few words.
And that is what makes Another Oath so ultimately rewarding. A prime example of this is the haggard and weather-beaten "Wonder You," in which Reig sounds like he's a few minutes away from throwing in the towel. Completely opposite to that is the urgent "Long Acre Room," in which Reig sounds ready and willing to take on the world. There's a lift in his voice, his cadence and even in the acoustic guitar. And it is on "Long Acre Room," that Another Oath really cements itself as one of this year's most memorable listens.