steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Anomoanon

"Asleep Many Years in the Wood" CD

Temporary Residence Limited

Genres: folk-rock, alt country, country rock

Temporary Residence Limited
PO Box 11390
Portland OR 97211

Jul 28 - Aug 3 2003

The Oldham crew is unarguably one of the most important families on the alt. country and contemporary folk scenes. Their influence spans far and beyond, for better or worse, be it Palace apprentice Jason Molina, or the millions of worn-out imitations out there.

But lots of Oldham material, especially that of The Palace Brothers and Will Oldham's solo outings, is an acquired taste. I know people who love it and I know people who think it's the most boring stuff ever committed to tape. That said, the new Anomoanon record is a departure, and a good one at that; instead of focusing on depression and gloom, principal songwriter, singer, and guitarist Ned Oldham has made Asleep Many Years in the Wood a happier album. It celebrates family and life, most notably the birth of Ned's son and daughter. The sweet, catchy songs here carry over a distinctive Oldham touch that fans will appreciate, but also succeeds in being more accessible and welcoming to new listeners. Those who once found Palace classics drab and uninteresting might find that a bit hard to say in the case of this album.

Ned Oldham's songwriting fluency is a particularly amazing characteristic of Asleep Many Years in the Wood. He's able to seamlessly blend elements of folk, country, rock, and pop music, infusing a warm campfire sound into infinitely melodic pop songs. "Y'Know" is a fine example; its strong country melodies are met with a very catchy chorus, and harmonica is added to give it a folky flare. It's such a diverse mixture, except you'd be pretty surprised how quickly it'll get stuck in your head. Other highlights are the warm opener, "Sixteen Ways," the moving "Bluebird of Happiness," and the infectious country rocker "Tongue and Heart".

Asleep Many Years in the Wood is recommended strongly not just for Palace fans, but for music lovers in general.


Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 11 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]