For their third release, Mouth Painter mold their high-lonesome exotica into a different kind Americana altogether, something more Kosimiche than cosmic. It’s the kind of music that might be playing on the jukebox in some Venusian honky-tonk. While the languid haze of Barry Walker’s pedal steel is certainly a touchstone of Mouth Painer’s sound, it’s complemented perfectly by Jason Willmon’s rhythmic drive, and the warm, proggy breeze of Valerie Osterberg’s flute. But where the overall vibe is homey and mellow, the songs on Tropicale Moon depict an ecology in crisis, a parched earth in geological distress. This is Anthropocene music, without a doubt, best exemplified up by the title cut. It’s an easy-rolling intergalactic road song that hovers gently between space-age lounge and the vague utopian hope of Jefferson Starship’s ‘Have You Seen the Stars Tonite?’ Osterberg sings about a small crew of folks who leave earth after the planet becomes unfit for life. They cruise the cosmos indefinitely on a space barge, drifting in search of another planet to tend so they might thrive together. For all the ground covered on Tropicale Moon, Mouth Painter pulls it off without a hitch, delivering an album of subtle grace and familiarity that always manages to point toward the horizon, and whatever lies just beyond it. | j annis
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