- Article by: Jon O'Brien
- Posted: 09/06/2012
Previously the pedal steel guitarist in DeYarmond Edison, the indie-folk outfit which also included Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and the future members of Megafaun, Chris Porterfield doesn’t appear to be in too much of a hurry to distance himself from his former Grammy-winning bandmate.
Backed by a six-piece band, his debut album under the anagrammed guise of Field Report not only echoes the wistful cabin folk so intimately showcased on the likes of For Emma, Forever Ago, but was also recorded at Vernon’s April Base studio in Fall Creek.
Having admitted that its ten tracks are based around themes of drink and drugs, self-sabotage and death, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the album is so stark. The Springsteen-esque “In the year of the Get You Alone”; the funereal closer “Route 18”; and the gentle alt-country of “I Am Not Waiting Anymore” in particular, feature little more than Porterfield’s permanently melancholic vocals and some delicately-plucked acoustics.
However, Field Report doesn’t always stick to such a tried and tested formula. Producer Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies) makes his presence known with the flourishes of spacey electronica on “Chico The American” and the rousing classic rock finale of “Captain Video.”
But it’s Porterfield’s poetic way with words that gives the record its identity. Indeed, it’s unlikely that such prose as “I was concealing his kid under his crewneck state-school sweatshirt while he grinned off in the distance behind prescription shades,” (“Fergus Falls”) has ever been uttered in a song before, while there are flashes of the Wisconsin humour scattered throughout, most notably with the references to Dahmer and Liberace on the almost radio-friendly Americana of “Incommunicado.”
Achingly sad but with fleeting moments of hope, Field Report may sound reassuringly familiar but its portrayal of life in the Midwest is admirably unique.