Mark Kraus‘ The Story of Everything is a bold title for an alt-country record with relatively humble sonic aspirations, but not all can be said with giant instrumentation. Kraus relies heavily on his acoustic guitar and his cracked, earnest voice to create the spacious landscapes that he favors. “The Start of Everything” accents these staples with distant pedal steel and gentle percussion to evoke the sense of driving long, dark, empty highways–a feeling which has become the province of slowcore acoustic tunes for me.
However, Kraus does have some full-band arrangements and upbeat tempos up his sleeve (the organ-laden “You and the Boys,” the immensely poignant folk tune “Little Brother”) to mix it up. When push comes to shove, though, it’s the sparser tunes like “The Weekends” and “Put an Old Record On” that let Kraus’ light shine. Instead of shooting for the epic, Kraus revels in the intimate. As a result, The Story of Everything is the sort of record that grows on you as you come to know its contours and shape.