Howe Gelb - Future Standards
Longtime songwriter and dusty trailblazer Howe Gelb has had a bit of a hot-streak lately. He’s put out some fine albums over the last few years such as Dust Bowl, The Coincidentalist, Howe Gelb Versus Radian, toured the world with Giant Sand and has recently just wrapped up touring with the Howe Gelb Trio; a stripped down ensemble interpreting Gelb’s songs in intimate settings. Gelb and Giant Sand (not to mention all his other projects), deserve a long and detailed overview but for now let’s talk about his latest LP, Future Standards.
Gelb’s new LP was created by his trio with Thøger Lund on bass and Andrew Collberg on drums. If you’re talking about Gelb, Giant Sand or The Band of Blacky Ranchette, the one thing that ties all of his recordings together is ambiance. Gelb is preferential to hearing room sound: the cracks in the wood floor, the sound of the piano pedal being pressed, chairs being shifted, life being lived in. Future Standards is no exception. It’s also another great example of Gelb’s skill on the upright piano. He plays with a whimsy and an imperfect style. Trills are tossed in haphazardly, chords are sometimes rushed but nothing is ever wasted or misused.
Like many of Gelb’s records, Future Standards was mainly recorded in his hometown of Tucson, AZ and his goal this time was to write songs that felt like old standards with melodies that feel familiar alongside complex chord structures. Helping to iron that out is guest vocalist Lonna Kelley who does a nice job augmenting the jazzy folk of “Terribly So” and “A Book You’ve Read Before.” Her voice contributes to the intimacy of the record and she’s utilized at just the right times like just prior to the outro of “Ownin’ It” when she whispers, “I understand, no matter what the matter might be.” Another highlight of the record is Gelb’s reinterpretation of “The Shiver”; a standout track on Giant Sand’s high-water mark, Chore Of Enchantment. He lets the melodies breathe more deliberately yet the beauty of the song still resides within the barren arrangement.
Future Standards is no misnomer. It’s Howe Gelb perfecting his own songbook, in his own way. (Dom)
Check out a track here.