Seth Kauffman

With so much ramshackle funk and lo-fi soul spilling out of Seth Kauffman's sophomore effort, Research, Beck is the immediate comparison on paper. But in reality, Kauffman sounds like no one else out there, whipping up a sort of world music from another planet altogether. Following up his little-heard 2006 debut Ting, the mysterious North Carolina boy wonder plays the majority of the instruments on Research himself, enlisting friends only for backing vocals and the occasional steel drum. (He's touring with a bassist and drummer.) As if the opener "Absolute Sway" isn't hard enough to ignore, "Now's Not the Time" piles shivering strings onto an already eerie country vibe. Then there's the junkyard Motown-dub fusion of "Not Much Left to Give" and the honky-tonk calypso of "What Makes (You Think I'm Gone?)." "Evening Blessing" dips freely into gospel, "Ron Ben-Isreal Blues" [sic] somehow fits its nutty name and "I Bleed Easy" feels like a surf-damaged oldie that escaped from the vaults. As much as each song feels like a quivering oddity, Kauffman's utter confidence and lazy drawl have a way of bringing it all together into a warm, crackling document of outsider art.

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Wallen. Doug