This record could just as easily be called “In A Sunny South Pasadena Living Room” or “In A Tin-Roofed Hut On A Remote Island In Winter”, the settings where cult acclaimed songwriter Nicholas Krgovich wrote the elegant new album “In An Open Field”. It is the result of Krgovich emptying out his life and committing to songwriting as a daily practice; sip coffee, make toast, sit at the piano and just hoping that the clock hands spin and at the end of the day there’s a new demo to listen to while making dinner and settling down to quiet evenings of re-runs and the occasional whiskey.
“I was interested in exhausting all of my tricks,” he says of his most lived-in and clear record to date, “just write and write and write to see if I could get to the bottom of something. But I don’t think that’s how things work. The bottom just keeps opening up and there’s always some more murk floating down there.” He continues “In the end I wasn’t hoping to master anything, or put the top on the pyramid. I just wanted to make stuff and flow and see what happens.”
After filling up boxes with songs and sketches, “In An Open Field” was born. Tracked with a “live” band in Coventry, UK, consisting of Mason Le Long, Joe Carvell and Matthew Rheeston overdubbed in Los Angeles, CA and Vancouver, BC, the record flows with a sophisticated, assured grace that in Steely Dan-like fashion belies the listless melancholy and knottiness found throughout the lyric sheet. Krgovich expresses the anxiety of the age in a way that is somehow both brutal and gentle. People have their phones and the internet, if there is a moment, they go to a screen and it is a constant turning away from not knowing, turning away from a lack of meaning and getting comfortable in moving through the world with no reference, no anchor point beyond the thin veneer of culture.
This record came from Krgovich looking at the thing he was doing, while he was doing it, and openheartedly going “Why? What’s the point? What is the elusive thing I’m searching for? If I write a great song, so what? What is my music directed at? An audience? Myself? And if an audience hears this and loves me for it, then what?”. “In An Open Field” is a “dropping of the phone” and explores a widespread existential crisis within a personal frame in a way that is raw and direct but with a lightness and sensitivity to the uncomfortable human condition it’s addressing. Luckily, this is all wrapped up in irresistible melodies, airtight songwriting, beautifully nuanced arrangements, and buoyant performances from musicians like trombonist Peter Zummo (Arthur Russell’s frequent collaborator), legendary pedal steel player B.J. Cole, Angel Deradoorian, and psych-pop wiz Chris Cohen.
From the feather-light saxophone harmonies on “Country Boy” to the gorgeously floaty first single “My Riverboat” the record is the finest work yet of a man who has built a formidable discography over the last fifteen years with groups No Kids, P:ano & Gigi, and collaborations with Amber Coffman (ex-Dirty Projectors), Mount Eerie and Nite Jewel (who also guests on the record). There is much to delight and turn over on “In An Open Field”, a gentle adventure from a master of sophisticated pop bliss. Get into it.
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An intimate record that comes and goes like a gentle breeze on a warm summer day. Barely noticeable at the time, but memorable on days when that gentle breeze is a distant, treasured memory. Noah Wilson