Pajo 1968 [Drag City]

Rating: 7.25

Had the usounds editors thrown this disc into a mac, fucked around with garageband, and sent me the burned disc along with a note explaining that the record was originally released in 1968, they would have had me for the first few songs. And it seems like that’s the effect Pajo is going for.

I’d have been confounded only because in 1968, it would be another year before Elliott Smith was even born. Turns out 1968 is the year Pajo was born in Texas. Elliott Smith’s sedated, grainy, at times reverb-abusive timbre is well ingrained, especially in “Prescription Blues”; but Smith’s influences, most notably the Beatles, were ’60s hallmarks…so it makes sense.

The vocals are also very much like Elliott Smith’s nearly whispered words, heavy on the inhalation, which the microphone seems to pick up more heavily than the words themselves. Pajo, formerly of Tortoise and heralded Indie giants Slint, has been around the Indie block. Rather than simply echoing ’60s rock, Pajo has always had a proclivity for reinvention. This album is no Sergeant Pepper, but it has some air of newness about it.

“Insomnia Song” and “Walk Through The Dark” could, quite appropriately, make reasonable additions to any nocturnal soundtrack. The latter is a little bit Simon and Garfunkel, but to make that comparison only highlights Pajo’s far less polished vocal harmonies. So let’s just not make that comparison.

The discord interjecting the melodic progression of “Wrong Turn” harkens back to the days of Pavement—oh, those days that we pine for so, so often. Water-droplet-like effects, however, add nothing to the tune and are, in fact, a bit degenerative. Pajo throws a bone to lovers of Bob Dylan’s “She Belongs To Me” in the form of “Cyclone Eye”. The album isn’t mind-blowing, but it’s pleasant. It’s pretty. It’s Pajo. It will remain in my collection.

-Lily Cutler

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One thought on “Pajo 1968 [Drag City]

  1. Slint are gods. Tortoise blows me away. David Pajo solo….. only so-so as of yet. I haven’t heard the new album, but a comparison to Elliott Smith seems slightly irregular. I shall see for myself soon……

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