Paste – Review
Reviews, Issue 28
By Palmer Houchins
Gifted singer/songwriter opts for deconstruction and electronic fillips
If Paul Brill’s life is part rural and part urban, part coastal and part landlocked, then his music is similarly hedged between competing binaries. The one-time marine biologist is also a sometime film and radio composer who writes, records and releases all of his own music. This vocational transience surely informed Brill, whose captivating 2004 release, New Pagan Love Song, cast the songwriter as more of a song tapestry maker, with dissimilar parts cut, pasted and eventually interwoven. A bit farther down this path stands his latest full-length, Harpooner, a stunning collection of pastiche where electronic soundscapes distantly meet straightforward Americana-pop songwriting fare. Opening track “Consanguine” brilliantly shakes, blips and creaks with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot-like deconstruction and dissonance while a melody and chorus frailly teeter on that same craggy ground. Brill probably programs more than he strums, but the results are still warm and lush with soft earth-worn elements grounding his sharp sonic abstractions.