i’ve been listening again and again to the low anthem‘s oh my god, charlie darwin, the band’s independently released album that’s finally gotten a wider distribution on nonesuch, and i can’t understand how i can be so drawn to a genre and style so far removed from what i can identify with. covering a broad range of americana, blues and folk, the band communicates in a manner that transcends the cultural boundaries that so often limit these music types. i suspect part of the answer has to be the versatile vocals of ben knox miller, who tackles both the rollicking, rowdier tunes and the softer, more delicate ballads with equal relish, invoking on different occasions the influences of dylan (“champion angel”) and tom waits (“the horizon is a beltway”), and together with the band recalling the more recent sublime harmonies of the fleet foxes. in the title track, which also opens the album, the voices are simply magical, with the sparse instrumentation giving the most room for the words to fill every corner of your room until it’s really all around you, like the cold and shapeless water and the lifeless life painted in the song’s mournful chorus.
oh my god, charlie darwin is now out on nonesuch records, handpainted on hardcover just like the original independent release.