Sound From Outside the Window: Clear Vinyl LP
Release Date: 18th February
Nostalgia is powerful thing, the smell of grass in summer, sound of an ice cream van, the taste of 1980s pot noodles but it's just transportation via your mind reliving a video tape which is degrading with every play. Sound From Outside The Window has me longing to go back to a place and recognising a sound, which I can only sense on feel alone because it sounds like so much yet nothing at all. It's warm in tone but has the psychedelic realism like the dreams you get micro-napping when you shouldn't be. This sounds like AOR pop and synth ballads recorded through a Sharp Viewcam and I can't tell you anything more than that. It's an incredible record.
For those who dig: the home vibes of Alex G, the AOR pop of High Llamas, the solo vision of Cut Worms, perhaps some Elliott Smith, Dog Trainer, Chris Cohen...
Evan Wright’s debut full-length album Sound from out the Window is a shimmering collection of country-tinged indie psychedelia. Recorded, mixed, performed, produced by Wright, the New Jersey-born, New York-based songwriter crafts a self-contained world, both nostalgic and stressed out, a personal and deeply compelling work that continually reveals itself with each listen.
Recorded partially in Wright’s New York apartment before Covid caused him to decamp to his parents’ barn in New Jersey for quarantine, Sound from out the Window is the work of a consummate craftsman, fully in control of his sonic arsenal. “I always enjoyed recording and doing everything by myself,” says Wright. “It gives me a chance to learn something new. Every time I write and record and makes it feel like the music is completely my own.” This determination to create something truly personal led Wright to play every instrument on the record. It also led to a lot of experimentation.
“I became really obsessed with manipulating sounds using cassettes and tape,” says Wright. “I also began reamping a lot of instruments, including my voice.” The results form a nuance and strangely-textured album, with unrecognizable sounds flitting in and out of the background, like the indie western movie soundtrack of your dreams. Electronic and acoustic guitars meld with synth lines with Wright’s half-whispered croon anchoring the music throughout.
Album opener “People” is a melancholic stroll through nostalgia, a pained longing for past times that can never come back. “Oh what’s the good in that?” sings Wright. “To know you can’t go back.” The song begins with acoustic guitar and bass over a steady drumbeat that gives way to a surprise harpsichord riff, with reversed guitars and a piano doubling the vocal melody. Every element finds its exact place in the mix, all of it working together, never overwhelming the song.” For a song about good times gone, however, it refuses to wallow or indulge in self-pity. There’s a joy to the sadness, a gratitude that the good times happened at all, and a hope for better things coming in the future. As Wright sings toward the end, “In your heart/Now’s the time to restart.”
“IDM” is one of the most immediate songs on the record, an anthem of detachment inspired by everyday frustrations. “One day I was taking the train that was so delayed,” says Wright. “And while everyone was losing it, I decided I was going to not let it bother me and finish the lyrics.” Featuring backing vocals from Alyssa McDoom, the chorus is a repetition of the phrase “I don’t mind,” and you can feel the calm assurance in Wright’s voice, the attempt to not let outside things over which he has no control dictate his emotions. “I sit and wait ‘cause I have nowhere to be,” sings Wright. “I can’t be late if I’m just waiting on me.”
The centerpiece of the album is “Turn the Other Way.” Among Wright’s warmest and most upbeat songs, it finds his voice louder and more forceful above an insistent electronic drum beat, the chorus a catchy repetition over swirling psychedelics. “I made this beat in my drum machine and just started playing along on a twelve-string guitar and recording myself and that’s when I came up with the verse,” says Wright. “I remember going to see old friends and listening to the verse I had recorded on my phone. I think that after seeing my friends who I haven’t seen in so long and seeing us all in wildly different points in life, the chorus came pretty quickly.”
The lyrics paint a picture of the ineluctable changes a friendship goes through, the way people you’ve known all your life can suddenly seem like strangers. “Why do people change? Why do people go?” sings Wright. But there’s an acceptance to the song, a desire to be at peace with things. “Turn the other way/Learn to let it go.”
The lush, acoustic “Ride” closes the album on a somber but hopeful note. The music was written quickly on a trip to Florida with the guitars recorded to cassette on a four-track in Wright’s apartment. “I was thinking about how many times I talk about doing something or going somewhere but never do,” he says. “I was wondering what I was waiting for.” The song is one of the quietest and most affecting on the record. Though more folk-country and minimalist than the rest of the album, it maintains Wright’s penchant for surprising sounds, with warped electric guitars sliding in and out of the mix, and drums coming in for the last chorus. “Gonna ride away/To another day,” sings Wright, already set on a new direction, endless possibilities waiting just on down the road