Published Jul 04, 2018As Fog Lake, Aaron Powell makes music that lives up to his project's namesake — secluded and deeply reflective, while slowly decaying with an austere mugginess. In other words, Fog Lake's music is for getting lost in the forest or for staring out the window during a grey morning rain. With Captain, Fog Lake's fifth album in six years, Powell introduces feelings of hopefulness to his usual themes of apprehension and unease.
The light guitar strums and the drifting piano on lead single "California" create an insular vessel for Powell's hermetic, fragile voice as he lingers in the possibility of lost love by navigating the sheer distance between agony and empathy in his head. Though sparse and skeletal, Powell's creaking vocals are powerful and alter Fog Lake's introverted songs so that they resonate deep with human emotion, like a safety blanket or an unconditional friend.
On the pastoral "Doghouse," Powell's lamenting whisper delicately trails off into ambient sounds of shuffling and crickets as the final notes waft into the nothing. Meanwhile, the piano-driven "Monster" features one of Fog Lake's more upbeat arrangements, with its disintegrating piano and scuffed-up percussion. Later, the steadfast acoustic guitar on "Goldmine" is the closest thing Fog Lake has been to foot-tapping folk territory.
Captain's closer "Dying Out East" is an instant Fog Lake classic — Powell's signature pairing of crackling guitar and swaying piano swells beautifully and fades out peacefully, as if to say goodbye to the trying past and to tip-toe towards uncertain future with composure. (Stack Your Roster)