Milkman's Union, Oh Boy
(Young Scientist Records, CD)
Vermont indie-pop songsmith Henry Jamison-Root released his first disc as Milkman's Union when he was just 17. That was last March. He certainly hasn't been resting on his laurels, as his latest effort, Oh Boy, attests.
The disc is full of sonic intricacies, bearing similarities to today's most erudite indie acts. Jamison-Root's lyrics are literate, but hardly pretentious. Some of 'em might even make the grade in poetry class.
Although Oh Boy is a solid listen front to back, its finest tunes come early. Opener "Leaves" contains tinkling piano, laid-back drums and Jamison-Root's earnest vocal melodies. "She leaves with ease the atmosphere and burns a bitter bright bouquet / And I see her go down in a glorious flame / And fade endlessly away," he tenderly croons.
"Red Dress" is a jaunty number that borrows its feel from country-folk. Again, Jamison-Root's lyrics take a cerebral turn: "She wore a red dress and I read a book on architecture / I was not interested at all," he sings in the song's first line. The feisty instrumentation - do I hear a mandolin in there somewhere? - nicely augments the smart wordplay.
Lo-fi electronica gets its due on "Player Piano," a tune with decidedly cheesy synth tones and tacky percussion. It's a cute diversion, but I prefer the more reflective numbers, such as the Dylan-esque sonnet, "June June June."
The strutting indie-funk of "Mornings" is charming, but it pales next to some of Jamison-Root's more adventurous arrangements. The track is built on a repeating acoustic guitar figure and loping bass that never quite gels. But, hey, at least there are some groovy handclaps.
"Storm/Sleep" features only acoustic guitar, bass and a particularly elegiac vocal performance. "What a pretty girl and garden," he coos in the song's haunting refrain.
"Now that you've screwed yourself sufficiently for both of us, I will attempt to walk you home," Jamison-Root sings on the prettily maudlin "The City and the Country." The song captures the ups and downs of indulgence, both romantic and otherwise.
Milkman's Union is a great vehicle for Jamison-Root's talents, which continue to develop. Hear him live at the CD release party on Saturday, January 13, at City Hall Auditorium.