Darryl Blood’s sweet and distinctive voice comes across like a bed-time conversation complete with a subtle ache. Even back in the 90’s when he was cranking out noise-rock experimentations with Turkish Delight in Boston, Blood’s vocal talents lent up an emotional barter to side-kick Leah Callahan’s dominatrix confrontations. But now in Los Angeles, and having recorded his second solo album, Blood has reflected on many miles, adjusted to a slower speed of life, and has developed a shyly optimistic view for a romantic gifted with many gorgeous offerings under his sleeve. On Making All Things New, his latest gift to Sunday afternoon music, Blood lets the sweetness in his raspy voice reach out to the listener looking for the sun behind the clouds.
Fans of harmonica and piano music rejoice upon the opening number, “Chain Smoking Cathedral,” a cynical compliment that sets up the tone for much of Blood’s All Things. “Can you believe? This time, I don’t want to die,” Blood reports over soft brush drums, suggesting the many miles between Boston and LA, and the ability for the artist to heal and move on. Instantly we are treated to Blood’s ability to, within the music, strike chords and arrangements reminiscent of an American country scene, providing accessible portraits of smoky bars and lost highways, paying homage to the school of Dylan or Waits.
Though Blood spends much of his time pondering his own cynicism, much of the music seeks to find the happy accents in the sounds, with even the most country tinged songs, “Years To Come” (complete with lap steel) and “Lightning and Stones,” not sounding too down in their own blue suede shoes. And yet, Blood cannot fully mask his rock roots by merely employing wire brush drums and harmonicas, as his pop-rocksters shine dutifully with near Pavement-like perfection at times, “Expecting Company” or “Oslo.”
The surprisingly soulful “I Believe” and painfully honest “Endless Deepest Blue” bring up some of the tenderest and softest moments on the record, with Blood’s voice dancing with the violins and pianos in perfect pastoral bliss. And thus, the traffic and smog of LA have not yet clouded Blood’s songwriting; rather, the album appears to inhabit the bubble between the coasts, the journey between going and coming, a journey that beckons the great American songwriter.
And like the great American songwriters, Blood allows the melodies that go with every step of the journey to come along with him, presenting them beautifully here in Making All Things New. And for all the Joni Mitchell “cynical and drunk and boring someone in some dark cafe” Blood drudges through, he finds it in him at the end to “Keep This World Spinning.” The final track on the album seeks to change cynical compliment into a compliment compliment by looking for a way to “stand on our own” in a “land [that’s] yours and mine.” And even though you can still hear the subtle ache in his voice as the song smiles away, it’s the sweetness that sticks when the album finishes, uncluttered by riddle or obsessive accompaniment. The album is a gorgeous dose of a gorgeous feeling — the feeling of Making All Things New.