The debut from Blanket Music drifts from jazz to bossa to pop to folk. From Pitchfork: Rating: 8.1
"Every so often, circumstance tosses you an album that reminds you how refreshing and nourishing a collection of songs can be. Nice is just such an album. Chad Crouch's latest project, Blanket, is so effortlessly hearty and rich you might think a stout, smiley-eyed elderly woman with a kerchief on her head and a husky Slavic accent ought to be serving it to you in heavy earthenware. Only there's an airy sophistication to it that begs for a more upscale food metaphor.
Of course, you're obliged to start with the great vocals. If Crouch's voice were but one food item within the larger, guilt-ridden multi-course indulgence that is Blanket's Nice, you might say that it's a soup (prepared by Belle and Sebastian's Stuart Murdoch, then spat into by the Violent Femmes' Gordon Gano) to open the meal and prime the palette for the eclectic parade of delicacies to come, while setting an easy tone for a long night of postprandial conversation.
Nice is Chad Crouch's first album released under the Blanket moniker and finds him newly and comfortably entrenched in a band setting. It suits him very well. Crouch, a painter, Portland music fixture, and head of Hush Records, is best known for his fine solo album, Portland, Oregon. While his songwriting skills were quite evident before, Blanket seems to have given Crouch a more spacious and better equipped stage on which to let his ideas play themselves out.
For starters, he utilizes a wonderful spectrum of sounds. Flute, organ, violin, vibes, piano, and accordion are all strung seamlessly and inconspicuously like dyed wool strands onto a sturdy loom of bass, guitar and drums. Another "sound" Crouch uses to great effect is silence-- the silence between the various timbres of the instruments, the spaces between notes, and the quietness spaced throughout his expertly phrased and timed vocal melodies. The immediate impression is one of sparseness and underdeveloped arrangement, but as the album progresses, you'll notice how much more suggestive the sounds become from all the spare room."
released 19 September 2000
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