Indie and country have been mingling freely since the ’80s, but the trend picked up a ton of steam in the ’00s. Yet Philip Boone is able to bring a new light to the subject because of his seamless integration of both sensibilities into one sound. Boone’s A Light and a Line meshes confident vocals with strong instrumentation and recording style to create an wonderfully comfortable album.
Boone’s voice is similar to Ben Gibbard’s: smooth, lithe, emotive and incredibly calming to listen to. It’s a bit lower than the Death Cab for Cutie and Postal Service singer, but not by much. Boone plays to this strength, as the arrangements of these twelve songs never impede his voice from shining. He knows that when you’ve got striking melodies at your disposal, like in the Eagles-esque “Either Way” and piercing ballads of “The Truth Is” and “Don’t You Know,” you should use ’em to their full effect.
This isn’t to say that the band is slouching along; the instrumentalists keep the tunes moving, showing off their skill tastefully. This isn’t heart-stopping rock’n’roll; this is swoon-worthy indie-country. The band plays in that framework, and doesn’t ever create any difficult tensions for Boone’s voice (unless they’re intended to be there). The exception is the solo piano closer, which eschews vocals to great emotive effect.
Boone’s A Light and a Line is strong throughout; I could list off tracks with excellent qualities, but I’d be taking up hundreds of words and repeating myself. He knows his strengths, plays to them well, and produces one of my favorite country-rock albums of the year. The vocals simply shine throughout; in a genre where the telling of the thing is everything, Boone knows how to deliver a melody and a story. Highly recommended for fans of indie-folk and alt-country.