Jim O’Rourke is one of those behind-the-curtain masterminds; he recorded and mixed Joanna Newsom’s remarkable sophomore album, Ys, and mixed what remains, in my opinion, Wilco’s best album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. You can hear his emphasis on recording and mixing practices across any number of the avant-garde or noise or “experimental” albums that he’s released, but these meticulous practices seem even more apparent when he chooses to release a more conventional album like Simple Songs. 2001’s Insignificance is often cited as O’Rourke’s last release of songs that adhere to the pop/rock structure, and Simple Songs lives up to its name. These are nimble, wry musings from a man who has never seemed to do anything simply, as if to compose these spare arrangements is merely another experiment for him. As is always the case with O’Rourke, it’s a worthy experiment. Listen below.
Simple Songs is out 5/19 on Drag City. Pre-order it here.