Elvis Perkins in Dearland
Elvis Perkins may well be the most capable performing docent in the museum of American music, as shown on his recently released, gap-filling Doomsday E.P. Kicking off with the defiantly joyful version of "Doomsday" from Perkins's latest full-length, Elvis Perkins in Dearland, this brief effort stomps and sweeps through a veritable living history of traditional American music, managing to sound authentic without sounding antique. In the span of six tracks, Perkins stirs up knee-slapping tent revivals, a Last Waltz stand-in, echo-drenched '50s rock with a swinging blues-scale base, and a simmering Southern vocal spiritual powerful enough to raise hackles through the speakers. Capping the record is "Slow Doomsday," which transforms the title track from a lark to a lament. Throughout, Perkins and Co. handle their roots with alacrity, yet avoid the sometimes painfully artificial sepia-toning that comes all too frequently with these kinds of form exercises. Whether you see that as a testament to the quality of Perkins's craft or to the universality of the music he loves, it makes you glad that Perkins is looking backward and moving forward at the same time.
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