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Naked - Oklahoma

Connor_McGaha   (38 reviews)

Posted: 03/22/2013 | Comments: 0 | Rate:

Prepare to weep, boys and girls. Another great band from Maryland, Naked consists of Carl Smith, one guitar, and a beautiful wall of sound. Utilizing reverb in its most potent form, Butt Naked drones and soars through 10 tracks of emotive, atmospheric ambient gorgeousness. From the opening track, "Ghost," until the very last seconds of "I'll Be Fine.," I guarantee that you will be left a crying heap, wherever you choose to listen to this.

Grab your kleenex:

"Ghost" - From the opening, delayed chord, this track takes on a somber, stoic face. As the vocals fade in, drowned in the syrupy sweetness of reverb and melody, this track washes over the listener, enveloping them--as it did me--in the warm, crushed velvet of sonic pleasure. Over the crashing waves of emotion, Carl croons, both softly and strained, "Before I knew it, the book was closed. It was finished." Soaking all of this in, the only logical conclusion is an overflow of emotion that falls from your tear ducts. You will taste tears.

"Lonely" - Experimenting with layered guitar on this song, this sobering track plucks and strums freely under Carl's crooning of the haunting, "Old and rusted, cobwebs cover what I used to be." Adding in touches of harmonica, and the grinding, scraping of a guitar pick, this song is 8:25 of the most intriguing, forced-apathetic ambient music I've heard in awhile. Like a lover, disassociating from the loved.

"For Now" - Focusing on the blending of individual notes, as opposed to the strumming of chords, the instrumental side of this song is like the organ, backing up the choir--which, in this case, are the vocals of Carl, as he softly, tenderly sings; holding back emotion, and allowing the listener the full blow of his lyrics and instrumental. As his voice begins to shake, the listener's lip begins to quiver, and he enters the lines, "I'm okay for now;" an all-too familiar statement for far too many people (including myself). The monotony of the instruments, instead of being dull, is both cathartic and anxious; leaving me to rock back and forth, while breathing deeply. An interesting combination, to be sure.

"Naked" - A more straightforward, strummed, less-atmospheric song, and it's still done beautifully. This song shows Naked's raw, organic talent at songwriting, and the diversity and range of songwriter Carl Smith. Beautiful, honest lyrics, "When I look in the mirror, I see a boy, not a man."

"Oklahoma" - "Oklahoma" goes back to the almost-overwhelmingly beautiful wall of sound element, and switches things up by providing a sound clip over Carl's croons and a stunning soundscape of low bass notes and mid-range strumming, adding in the high-note, twinkles of single picks. This is a short, sweet, lovely track.

"Landlines" - Adding several of his more-developed and more charismatic qualities, Carl strums, picks, slides, and croons his way through this near 6-minute track. Gorgeous, following suit with the rest of the album.

"Fade//Return" - The first truly dark song on the album, this 4-minute gem is filled with gloomy, atmospheric vocals repetitively asking, "Will you be there in the end?" and accompanied by clockwork strums, and frail picking, all to the background of rain and static, which eventually drown on the track, fading into "Scarecrow."

"Scarecrow" - A more experimental song, and the shortest on the album, at 2:56, this song features the droning guitar, struck solemnly, and a random sampling of animal noises--however, contrary to how that may sound, this is done in a way where the term "cliche" never comes to mind. Wonderful.

"Dust" - Starting with long, droning singular notes that weave in and out of each other, and penetrate the rain and percussion of the intro, this song is one of the more stoic songs, begging the listener a moment to rest. And rest, I did, during this track. Closing my eyes and meditating, I let this song pour over me for its full, 8-minute duration. Simply a beautiful song, just like the rest of this album.

"I'll Be Fine." - One of the first songs I heard by Naked, and one of the more unique on the album, this song plays with the effects of the guitar, making it sound like a summertime wind chime, revolving throughout the song, as Carl solemnly, masturbatorily sings the verse of this closer. A haunting, gorgeous close to a haunting, gorgeous album.

One of the best ambient albums I've ever heard, and one of my personal favorites, Naked is sure to be a favorite for any fan of emotional, atmospheric, or ambient music. Simply beautiful.


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