How Far Away

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The second release by the Real Estate bassist Alex Bleeker’s other band / project / creative outlet (following 2009’s self-titled debut), is a largely easy-going and unfussy affair. There’s something pleasingly home-made about it, whether engineered or unintentional or, perhaps maybe it was recorded at home, but either way it’s homely, and that adds to its charm. And it is quite a charming record, in the way that any record that show’s its hand with all country-tinged sadness tends to be – there’s no hiding that sadness, not least on the beautiful bruised country-waltzer “Leave on the light”, and with titles like “Who are you seeing?” and “Love fadeaway”, you can guess (without listening) that this is a break-up album.It all begins with a sense of defiance – “Don’t look down” has that moving-on feel about it, a driving evocation of going-forward / looking-forward, and travellin’ on, but just like in life, that sun-shiny positivity doesn’t last, the clouds begin to gather, and things get a little reflective. Often the upbeat sounds belie the words, but at no point do you ever really lose the sense that Bleeker is hurting, and by the end that tends to be a bit oppressive. There are some great tracks, the Yo La Tengo-esque “Who are you seeing?”,  the selfaware “All my songs” and the aforementioned “Don’t look down”, are all wonderful, but as an album, there’s too much here that’s hard to get onside with unless your in a particularly wallowsome mood.