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Winfred E. Eye, The Dirt Tier

This is the kind of music the punk-rock farmhands make when they head back to their quarters for late-night jams, tall tales, and corn whiskey. It’s slow, grinding, Depression-era rock. Tin Pan Alley with a Hammond organ. Things that shouldn’t match up, but really do. And it’s, like, music that actually sounds dirty. Gritty. With songs about riding the rails, gothic highway legends, suicides, drifters. Vocalist Aaron Calvert (whose grandfather was named Winfred Elton Eye) growls through the songs on The Dirt Tier with a rasp that earns its comparisons to Tom Waits with good reason, which is not to say it’s an exact copy, but it’s certainly a close relative. Much of the music, which is softly layered and delicate, is more in the spooky/eerie chamberesque territory of Black Heart Procession.

Winfred E. Eye brings together a couple of handfuls of varied influences into a single, concise direction. Grandiose, miserable ballads about somebody wronged or, more often, who done somebody wrong. But the songs don’t offer any kind of closure to their conflicts – instead offering for those listeners who experience the drudgery of life, for those who are unhappy because they in fact have or believe that they’ve fallen between the cracks of society, that they will continue in their ways until some promised, final release.

As a paean to toil in life and work, it’s the chosen purpose of The Dirt Tier to not offer any solutions, but rather to evoke a shared experience. Which makes it, in essence, a blues for a new generation.

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Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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