This isn't the first time I've experienced water tower envy. Stash your dirty take on that statement and open your mind to the kind of acoustic possibilities an abandoned husk of monolithic metal casing presents; even something so slight as the sound of Autumn's driest, final dead leaf falling inside one of those hulking riveted hulls must echo ever so epically. Coincidentally, the two sides of the Water Tower Sessions split 45 (Empty Cellar Records) reverberate hauntingly of tones both epic and Autumnal. Recorded by the American Opry who, bless them, trespassed inside a three-story behemoth to capture gorgeous field-recordings of two Bay Area folk artists, Joseph Childress and The White White Quilt, performing their sad yet very beautiful songs live inside the old tower, achieving a fullness of sound that seems to suggest a memory of water.
What I like most about these songs is the ghostly feeling that comes from hearing them paired together on this record: Childress' "Leaving the Barren Ground" tells a shadowy tale soaked in vocals that at first flow weighted, heavy with confession, but then ebb into soul-quaking howls by yarns' end, minimal percussion and steady strumming lending eerie tingles and determination to his story. Then in "Papa," The White White Quilt plods along to reluctant acoustic twangs while multiple voices singing low-slung verse suggesting an unwillingness to accept the passing of time. Altogether, the record is quite like two similar spirits willing their abandoned dwelling to sag upright before poetically keeling over; broken-down new folk songs recorded in an old forgotten well fogging the mirror of this dark, nostalgic time of year. Pressed on frosty clear vinyl and limited to 500 copies that include access to downloads of both songs (plus a bonus cut!).
P.S. I have it on good authority that there are some very choice, cavernous water towers on Treasure Island if anyone in San Francisco wants to try drowning in their own sounds. This record here proves that it's certainly worth the effort (and adventure folks! Think of the adventure!).