A collaboration between New York-based songwriters, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler (of Quilt) and Caity Shaffer, Olden Yolk fuse elements of psychedelic folk with the blue poetry of golden-era singer-songwriters. Ege Bamyasi-centric percussion, courtesy of session drummer Dan Drohan, keeps everything moving, giving songs like “Common Ground” and “Takes One To Know One” the constant, pastoral shuffle of the last OCS record—gentle, perpetual motion with the pacifying effect of a long Amtrak ride through the countryside.
The overall effect is confusingly familiar but totally new. The sounds of Greenwich Village singer-songwriters mingle with clicky motorik rhythms—creating a dystopian strain of psych-folk that sounds as inspired by the man-made elements of the city as it does by greener pastures. Sonically, it’s gorgeous—there’s not a sharp angle on the whole album—putting you in a trance of uninterrupted plushness. If you tune out, the album can feel a bit flat, one-note, monotone. If you pay attention, there’s intricacy and just enough variation.
There’s the Laurel Canyon by way of Nick Drake vibe of “Gamblers On A Dime,” or the Angel Olsen/Midnight Sister blend of the excellent “Vital Sign,” with Shaffer taking lead vocals—her cooly blasé delivery of lines like “You’ve got your lows/got your highs/like anyone else,” countering the yé-yé melody. There’s the great cyclical acoustic riff at the heart of “Hen’s Teeth” that offers the slightest whiff of country, and the bombastic drums that open “Esprit De Corps”—the biggest sound of the album.
The tracks that ground the album, “Cut To The Quick” and the expansive “Takes One To Know One” both deal with the passing of time and—much like the drumming throughout the album—moving forward. They serve as the best representation of the band’s strengths: subtly hooky melodies, abstract yet relatable lyrics, and an appealing dreaminess that will have you surprising yourself when the album ends, and you go to start it over once more.