By Stephen Kane
The awake and ever-prolific Ty Segall has yet again surpassed the sonic barrier with his latest release, “Sleeper,” released Aug. 20.
The past five years have seen eight full-length releases from Segall, each marked by the fuzz-guitar and the psychedelic garage rock sound characteristic of San Francisco. This time around we are introduced to a unique somber world, invited deeper into the depths of acoustic slumber. “Sleeper” marks a milestone in Segall’s musical career, surrounded by many significant factors in his own personal life—-Segall’s father recently passed away from cancer—-and his first solo release since last year’s “Twins.”
Consisting entirely of acoustic guitar, various stringed instruments and occasional percussion, “Sleeper” is vastly different from Segall’s previous efforts. The opening and title track “Sleeper” introduces the listener to the beautiful ballad sounds of the album with themes of loneliness, loss and acceptance with lyrics “Oh, deeper/fall deeper into sleep/my sleeper too” allowing the listener to be submerged into the comforting and caress the album righteously provides. Segall’s vocals are strong and distinctive, drawing influence from many singer-songwriters from the sixties. Violin and viola are prevalent within the album, a first collaboration from Segall and it is surprisingly and incredibly suitable.
Next track “The Keepers” is an anthem for a generation of imaginaries, visionaries and youth. Reminiscent of yester-years counterculture especially in the San Francisco Height-Asbury district, with groups such as The Fugs, Jefferson Airplane and even Steve Miller Band. With confidence and grace, Segall provides lyrics of utmost beauty, “And let your hair grow/And let them know/That the dreamers can still shake hands.” Strong, powerful moments like this on the album make for a very promising outlook on where Segall is heading creatively and how he is progressing as a writer.
Third track “Crazy” shares a delightful reminder to remember your background and to know your roots, no matter where you are in life.
Venturing into the possibly Philly-band-related fourth track named “The Man Man” enters the more jam-based influence on the album. The ever present acoustic guitar glides with prestige while natural reverb-soaked vocals float with mastery. Significantly the song progresses into a pinnacle point on the album, introducing the single and solitary electric guitar part on the entire record with a sacredly overdriven guitar solo sending even the lightest listener to head-banging territory.
The record’s first side closes with a sincerely written song entitled “She Don’t Care” with beautiful vocal harmonies and impressive violin work. The record’s second side opens with acoustic jam-based track “Come Outside” introducing grooving bongos and electric bass guitar driving the rhythm. The next track entitled “6th Street” starts with acoustic slide-guitar with dreamy vocals and a swooning melody. Also heavily rooting in the blues, the album is very traditional with great folk sensibility.
The album’s eight track “Sweet C.C.” provides a catchy acoustic riff and heavenly chorus hook drawing the listener in an eclectic release of emotion. What is incredible about the record is each of these songs has the potential to translate sonically into a full-band electric composition, almost as comparable to when Bob Dylan went from acoustic to electric in 1965.
Ninth track entitled “Queen Lullabye” is a slow, sweet and sad song with Segall singing in falsetto over a progressively echo and delay effect building to a climax. The final and tenth track on the album entitled “The West” is a charming, warm and enchanting sing-along reminiscent of a traditional folk song. The song can easily be placed in old folk songbooks and is delivered sincerely with ever-present love and care. Distinct in the song is Segall’s expressing his notion of being lost, lonely yet also discovering a new and proud foundation.
With countless albums, songs and bands Segall has been a part of within over the past half-decade “Sleeper” is a glorious gem and generous effort of supreme talent. Heavily representing the state of garage rock and the influence of so many bands to come from San Francisco over the years, we find a genuine representation of the promising outlook of rock ‘n’ roll. “Sleeper” hails and reigns as a reminder of the great need of original singer/songwriters of today’s generation.
Come together and prosper as a new age to aid the state of raw, real and regal music. A solid token of genius, the dream can be achieved and as one we allow the imagination become a part of reality.
Ty Segall’s band, Fuzz, which he plays drums for will be in Philadelphia on Friday, Oct. 11 at Kung-Fu Necktie.