Lexington, Kentucky trio Englishman (Andrew English, Justin Craig, and Matt Duncan) are back, this time with a full-length album. Recorded to tape in a converted barn in Ohio, the band polished their sound for Englishman without losing the quirky charm of the lo-fi apartment recordings of Taxidermy.
Andrew English’s voice is at the forefront of the album, augmented by acoustic guitar, piano, and a few other flourishes to keep it interesting. As on Taxidermy, it is the lyrics that really make Englishman’s songs something special, each track a tiny gift covered in layers of beautiful and intricate wrapping. Some lyrics lie in the fantastically abstract, some bite, and others are literary snapshots. To wit: “crushed under the pounding blue pinhole sky;” “kissing your lips was a contract I wish you couldn’t read;” “if I must die last / I want someone in the middle looking over her shoulder.”
The music isn’t to be forgotten, though. Englishman has a talent for ensconcing its words with the perfect chord here and electronic fuzz there. The lighter sound of “First Prize” serves to counter-balance the heavier lyrics, and the chord progressions in the chorus of “The Sticks” push the message of loss in a way that’s hard to describe but just right. A refurbished “Boy T. Rex” (also found on their debut EP) has a childlike sweetness about it, though anchored by sadness.
Cozy and accessible, Englishman gives listeners something to sink into. Beautiful melodies and lyrical delights arise at every pass, each listen yielding something new.