January 25, 2007

Norfolk and Western's The Unsung Colony

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From a well-connected cast including M. Ward’s touring guitarist and former Decembrists’ drummer, comes the pleasant space-folk record, The Unsung Colony, by Norfolk & Western. On their newest release an eclectic ensemble of instruments — trumpet, glockenspiel, and even a musical saw — are peppered throughout in a dubious effort to make the album unique. At times the additives work, but at others, the record sounds forced.

Not all hope is lost. Lead vocalist Adam Selzer saves the record with his earnest voice and knack for charmingly discordant pop. The first cut from the album, “The Longest Stare” exemplifies the band’s best — a simple but tasty piano ballad becomes enchanting with an effortless vocal performance and imperfect drumming. Although Norfolk & Western at times loose direction, there are moments on this record when their vision unites – at it’s finest, Selzer’s keen sense of melody on top of hodge-podge orchestration makes The Unsung Colony worthwhile.