Much of my calendar year, every year, is spent sifting through record store bargain bins, estate sales, etc. and digging into the acquisitions. I win some and lose some, but I never write about it on AuxOut even though it accounts for a huge portion of my listening and discovery. In honor of the season of presents, I am celebrating some of the gifts bestowed upon me by the record gods during 2023.
Friday, December 8, 2023
The 25 Bargain Buys of Xmas: Day 8
This marked my first proper introduction to the work of violinist, pianist and Leonard Cohen collaborator, Lewis Furey. I'd loved his playing on Cohen's best album New Skin for the Old Ceremony (an all timer if there ever was one) but had not realized he had a solo career until I came across this record, his eponymous 1975 debut. From the jump, the art pop tango of, ahem, "Hustler's Tango" signals that you are heading down the path of a very peculiar album. Theatrical in all the best ways, Furey's limited vocal range and sardonic delivery forms the center to a strange set of ever shifting spokes that cycle around him on any given track. At times you might hear a little Cohen influence in there, but this is a really singular work. Furey seems to synthesize a galaxy of styles: Kurt Weill, Marc Bolan, James Taylor, Lou Reed, ornate chamber pop, cabaret jazz, dissonant avant-garde composition and more. The arrangements are reconfigured from song to song, just as likely to feature trombone as marimba as castanets as banjo. It is an inspiring album to say the least. Furey's influence can be felt in the music of fellow Canadian Owen Pallett (formerly Final Fantasy) who unleashed their own singular brand of idiosyncratic neo-classical art-pop for 21st century listeners.
A playlist of tunes from each of the records I wrote about, I'll add a new song each day: