After circulating tapes during a few years of international touring and cultivating his following in Austin, David Longoria has recorded his debut studio album as Longriver: Of Seasons, a folk-animated meditation on time, death, and whispers of transcendence. Before Longriver, Longoria played with acts diverse as . . . And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Bill Baird, as well as producing records such as The Blue Dirt of Paradise. But his main operation was fronting his own multi-piece rock set, The Black, whose record Sun in the Day Moon at Night got “pretty damn close to the mythical ‘cosmic American music’ that GP was trying to pin down,” according to My Old Kentucky Blog. This record was indeed a production from the vibrant center of life and activity, and it earned Longoria a national audience. The work of Longriver, however, is quieter and operates in more intimate spaces and moments. Such work could be called a breather when it comes to speed, a temporary release from our culture of acceleration. Longriver’s poetic approach to music invites listeners to let their suffering be witnessed and touched.
Of Seasons is led by Longriver’s lyrical, Fahey-styled guitar picking, accompanied by upright bass and ambient organ, piano and cello. The first track places us on a boat and sets off on the odyssey of the record. “When the ark was building Noah, and I was sitting nowhere” is the refrain of the song, and Of Seasons is full of such mythic, existential lines that make you grateful the album includes liner notes. The next song, “Wasting Time,” is direct and demanding: “I open the book of wasting time, I point and click on wasting time, wherever I look I’m wasting time,” sung with a power that encourages listeners to see our insecurities honestly and collectively. If the lyrics touch anxieties and fears, the rhythmic strength of Longriver’s fingerstyle playing–informed by Skip James, Charlie Patton, and Townes Van Zandt–keep the record moving, deftly afloat. Longriver channels the more mystical resonances of pre-war blues in “The Way That It Is,” a song that deals with illness, aging, and delusion in a surprisingly supportive tone. This song, and less directly the album as a whole, addresses inevitability of pain, and how ineptly our culture deals with that pain, whether through religion, the cult of work, material wealth, or romantic love. “Kuku Ree,” the closing track, offers no definitive answers: “You do the best with what you know, and slowly you go to the truth,” through the dream-like nature of everyday life and death.
Of Seasons releases September 6th, 2019 from Hullabaloo records. It was recorded at King Electric Recording Co. in Austin, Texas, produced by Michael Pierce and mastered by JJ Golden at Golden Mastering. Musicians on the album include: Thor Harris (Swans, Bill Callahan, Shearwater), Sarah La Puerta (Tele Novella, Thor and Friends), Lindsey Verrill (Little Mazarn), Evan Joyce (Warm Sugar), Colin Gilmore, and Alan Schaefer.
Photo: Dave Bryant