Field Report at Rumba

By
From the November 8, 2012 edition

When Carolina folkies DeYarmond Edison split, Justin Vernon holed up and invented Bon Iver, while other members got experimental as Megafaun. Chris Porterfield, meanwhile, quietly attempted to write songs for the first time. Six years later, he’s back in the game with a debut album that’s among the year’s most mesmerizing meditations.

Musically, Field Report plays like Wilco’s “Ashes of American Flags” crossed with Ryan Adams’ “Oh My Sweet Carolina,” bleeding the former’s weary atmospherics into the latter’s warm intimacy. From familiar components they’ve grafted something just new enough to arouse the senses.

But Porterfield’s lyrics are the album’s true selling point; every song is stocked with understated yet striking declarations (“I drink at home most days now/ And sometimes sleep with my wife”) and powerful imagery (“This is the one in which I miraculously pulled out/ Of a freefall over Fergus Falls, Minnesota.”) In an indie landscape where surrealism and dissociative escape are all the rage, Porterfield’s honest engagement with reality stands out as something worth grappling with. All those years percolating were well spent.