Silent City (2009) is a mix of songs, instrumentals, and field recordings that are loosely centered around the small, rural town where my father grew up. His family's apple orchard and home were across from a local cemetery, which they referred to as "silent city."
Late at night, just before closing; sleepy, between awake and dreaming; old jukebox, conversation, laughter––and then, transformation.
1. The Night Is, and Lights Are (4:26)
2. The Top Hat (3:36)
3. Sinclair Serenade (0:35)
4. Sleeping in the Driveway (4:05) [mp3]
5. “Well, there are a lot of stories” (5:17)
6. Silent City (4:37) [mp3]
7. And Under the Winesap Tree (3:10)
8. It’s Different Now (4:10)
9. Papa Made that Last Verse Up (0:49)
10. Some Glad Day (4:29)
11. As Old As the Stars (3:10)
12. To Hear Still More (2:51)
Liner Notes From David Grubbs:
"A clock ticks ‘til the day calls for me. It really does arrive, it really does cease. At 11am the church bell across the street sounds its throb. It continues, and the rain stops. After fifteen minutes, I think about the coming small disappointment." David Grubbs, 2009
The Wire: "Working like a novelist, he has immersed himself in an archive of field recordings – slices of past lives – and now emerges to create a new text, breathing new life into old chunks of sound by radically recontextualising them."
Paste Magazine: Artist of the Week: “The result is an other-worldly album that demands—and deserves—undivided attention in a darkened room with some good headphones. In that environment, you might just be transported to the mythological small town Harnetty imagined while recording.”
MOJO Magazine: “[A] bewitching folk collage... Silent City plays like a snow-dampened sleepwalk through the shadows of a rural American town, Oldham’s voice floating like a Salem sprite over the field recordings and naïve piano melodies, spinning together folk fragments and the words of Harnetty’s father."
Samples are used with permission from the Berea College Appalachian Sound Archives.
Track 1: Hiram Stamper, "Lonesome Road"
Tracks 3, 8: The Sinclair Gospel Serenade, featuring The Rhythmettes and The Teenage Gospelettes, "It’s Different Now"
Track 6: The Helton Family, "Dinah"
Track 9: Travis and Nova Baker, "Fourth Night Drunk"
Brian Harnetty, piano, Rhoads electric piano, accordion
Bonnie "Prince" Billy, voice ("Sleeping in the Driveway," "And under the Winesap Tree," and "Some Glad Day")
Ben Taylor, clarinet
Cory Siefker, violin
Sam Paxton, drums
Tom Spare, bells and vibes
Artwork and design: Yuri Ono and Nathaniel Parsons
Special thanks: to Jennifer Harnetty
For: Paul Harnetty, and for Henry