In “Someone I Used to Know,” it’s clear Link is a storyteller at heart, loving to create romanticized people that aren’t romantic at all, but rather drunk and sad. Sometimes that sad, drunk figure is himself: “I used to know everybody in this town/I should have known it wouldn’t take that long to get around.”
Generally, the songs could be about 30 seconds shorter than they are, and Link’s delivery doesn’t have a lot of flexibility, so the album does run together just a bit, but it is magnificently manufactured from top to bottom with producer Jon Wyman and a cast of great backing musicians that not only includes Robbins, but also bassist Scott Eliot and the always-on Ginger Cote on drums. You’ll also find fine organ and piano work from Sykes the Milliennium (sic), who was last referenced in this space as GQ Lazorbase; an upbeat, Dixie-blues mandolin from Pip Walter (Piners, Boreal Tordu); and, finally, a really terrific duet with old friend Darien Brahms, whose sultry delivery just hasn’t been heard often enough in this town lately.
That duet comes in “Almost Always,” a proper foot stomper, where Brahms enters in the second verse with her warm, confident strut and regenders the chorus. In the end, both she and Link end up “almost always alone.” Yeah, there isn’t a ton of optimism here. “Night Turns Blue,” with its simple start of percussion, the breath of acoustic guitar, and a few single notes from the electric guitar, features this upbeat number: “If you need me to pass some test/How about this hole in my chest?” But it also features a triumphant horn bit from Matthew Lagarde and a cool digital backbeat finish.
Maybe things are “Coming Around” for Link. In the title track, Eliot Hull’s backing vocals are a melodic complement to Link’s sentiment: “I can feel exactly who I’m supposed to be/And there’s a place where it all comes down/It’s coming around.” What will it all come around to? That’s for the future to decide, but Link has effectively entered stage two of his music career, and there’s no need for fake names anymore.
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