Thanks in large part to Carter Tanton’s chilling vocals and the band’s modern, outlaw sound, Tulsa’s physical debut is a darkly enchanting spine-crawler. The disconnection in Tanton’s echoed twang gives off a Wild West vibe while the stark, rambling rhythms behind him are so tight, it’s as if they came from underneath a single hat. With both intimacy and apathy in its guitars, I Was Submerged exudes a beautifully lonesome introspection throughout.
As a slow-churning acoustic guitar lays most of the foundation on I Was Submerged, steely riffs and Tanton’s distant voice define its sound. On the EP’s opener, "Breath Thin", a sharp electric guitar snakes around a pattern above the acoustic chug, as Tanton sings with a powerfully sour strain. Ominous drums complete the track with an occasionally desperate rolls like the heartbeat of a fugitive. On the standout track, "Shaker", the elements are similar, but the atmosphere is more positive. The melodic vocal track coasts effortlessly across the smooth wash of instruments. "Mass" has a laid-back rhythm with poignant interludes, while "Rafter" is the most mysterious track as it slowly build from a quiet, delayed guitar into an aching, metallic swell. The last track, "There Goes a Man", is a cool, acoustic crawler with a chorus that features Tanton’s airy vocals and a swirling guitar effect before cruising off into a rolling drumbeat and expansive solo. The EP musically spans a wide variety of demeanors from solitude to adventure to death.
Tulsa’s I Was Submerged EP stands out as a collection of alt-Western gems that portray a desolate and difficult existence from a haunting, modern perspective. It’s further out there than typical alt-country, and much like the revered legend of the old West, will have a uniquely enterprising way of sticking in our minds.