FIELD MEDIC – Fade Into The Dawn (Run For Cover RFC188)

Fade Into The DawnThe professional name of nasally voiced, lo-fi bedroom folk musician Kevin Patrick, this marks his first release of new material for the label, although he has self-released numerous singles and EPs, many of which were gathered on the Songs From The Sunroom. I guess if you’re looking for musical roadmarkers, the tradition that he most often evokes is the retro folk-country of vocals, strummed guitar and occasional drums of such names as Arlo Guthrie and Eric Anderson while more contemporary references might be Fleet Foxes.

The trials and tribulations of the grafting musician on the road are laid out in the first lines of album opener ‘I Used 2 Be A Romantic’ (“those fuckers talked over my whole set”) as he sings of having to flog the merchandise to make a buck, riding the transit, “a dude in a laminate” being blinded by the spotlights, having to play the old hits because the new material is too depressing and finding it hard to quit drinking when you need to drown out the emptiness.

Things don’t get much more optimistic as the album rides an emotional rollercoaster through the washboard stomp of ‘I Was Wrong’ , the title of which comprises the bulk of the lyrics, the saloon waltz of ‘The Bottle’s My Lover, She’s Just My Friend’, a blackly witty song in the fine tradition of Loudon Wainwright III as indeed is the end of the world scenario of the troubadour waltztime strum ‘Songs R Worthless Now’ replete with the gallows romanticism of “with my last breath I’ll kiss you as the bullet goes in.”

The lovestruck ‘Tournament Horseshoe’ (“for you I’d write a novel or else I’d carve you a statue”) is another catchy stomp, here accompanied by banjo while, by musical contrast, cymbals shimmer across the introspective ‘Hello Moon’ with its scuffed walking beat, ‘Henna Tattoo’ jangles guitars across a song about the insecurity and anxiety of “seeing you seeing him” and, returning to the life of the travelling minstrel, the on the hoof domesticity (“I’ll be hungover for weeks when I turn up at her door, but she lets me in to stay”) celebrated in ‘Everyday’z 2moro’, presumably with the girlfriend muse he talks about in ‘Mood Ring Baby’, is more inclined to indie alt-folk with its guitar and effect distortions.

He ends with the simple strum of the quietly desperate ‘Helps Me Forget’, in which he sings how those quiet or uninhibited moments can sometimes convince him that “someday soon I’m gonna wake up strong, bold, & brave” only for the shadow on depression to fall again as “I can’t help but feel I’m just broken…

Awash with neuroses, it’s probably the only album where the word Rorschach appears not once but twice, but, amid the end of tether disquiet and emotional self-lacerating, there’s still shines glimmers of hope. At one point, he sings “One day I’m gonna have me a calico kitty named ‘Joni’ named after my hero.” Buy this album and get the man a cat.

Mike Davies

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‘Used 2 Be A Romantic’ – live: