Low, Mike Doughty

Rock
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Editorial Review

Worth hanging on for this one
By Geoffrey Himes
Friday, June 14, 2013

The first song on Low’s new album, “The Invisible Way,” is a world--weary folk--rock lament that uses funeral--march drums, understated indie--rock guitar, deadpan Appalachian storytelling and ghostly female harmonies to evoke an atmosphere of inevitable regret. But the title, “Plastic Cup,” refers to the ritual a former drug user must undergo. This connection between the fatalism of older rural melodies and the skepticism of contemporary urban culture occurs again and again on this collection of slow tempos, hushed sonics and moral quandaries.

Low, a trio from Duluth, Minn., has been led by the husband--and--wife team of Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and a series of bassists (currently Steve Garrington) since 1994. The trio sounds more unhurried and reserved than ever, with songs revealing their latent loveliness. Perhaps that’s because of Parker’s soprano, or perhaps it’s because of producer Jeff Tweedy’s emphasis on Sparhawk’s catchiest guitar motifs.

Even in the more amorphous songs, there’s a theme of surviving bad circumstances until better times. “I can tell when something’s wrong,” Parker sings on “Holy Ghost,” adding, “some holy ghost keeps me hanging on.” “If I could tell the future, all the same, why would I?” sings Sparhawk on “Mother,” answering, “We have time.” The patience of the music fits the stoicism of the lyrics like a glove.