Sad, tragic beauty has been having a renaissance in the likes of The National and Grizzly Bear, and that’s even been true of more country-folk sorts (witness the phenomenal and still-surprising success of Bon Iver). Ben Cramer, as Old Sea Brigade, channels it movingly on Ode to a Friend.
Written after the sudden loss of a friend to suicide, Ode to a Friend is yes, very sad. The plucking beauty of opener “Sinkhole” (this is the kind of record that opens with a song named “Sinkhole”), “Hope”, “Western Eyes”, and “Cigarette” is intimate and heart wrenching. “Seen a Ghost” is both haunting and touching, while “Resistance” is a very powerful carry.
Not a happy way to start 2019, but “Auld Lang Syne” ain’t exactly a party anthem, if you think about it. But if you want to feel something, listen to Ode to a Friend.