Release Date: Jun 11, 2013
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
Rock ‘n’ roll may be the devil’s music, but that’s not to say that there isn’t something unrepentantly venial and degenerate about the haggard, wounded folk Jesse Lortz spins out on This Is Another Life. His second full-length under the sign of Case Studies, it may not expressly advocate a conversion to satanism or espouse the fiscal advantages of insurance fraud, yet its immorality is there if you listen closely enough, harbored in its aestheticization of misery, conflict, separation, and sin, in the fact that it’s another bittersweet folk record that romanticizes these pains of being human, perpetuates their “art-worthy” status, and therefore offers an incentive for their retention to those who might otherwise have sought personal growth. Then again, Lortz’s marriage of wayfaring, broody Americana and measured, crypto-anecdotal songwriting is delivered with enough conviction and delicacy to lend credence to the possibility that a life interspersed with suffering is far richer than any untroubled alternative.
Jesse Lortz is trying to get himself moving again if he can help it. Back when he was The Duke in the ambulatory Seattle folk duo The Dutchess and the Duke, his melancholy was spun into campfire punk songs that celebrated, even exalted, sadness. It was when he started his solo project Case Studies that his woodsy songs traveled into a nameless room in a nameless city and turned inward on his debut album This World Is Just a Shape to Fill the Night.
Case StudiesThis Is Another Life[Sacred Bones; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; July 9, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetCase Studies was never just a solo project for Jesse Lortz who before found fame in the Duchess and the Duke. Rather, Lortz has rather grand ambitions for it, aiming to make it something of a community project where fans would learn the songs via video tutorials and when Lortz hit their part of town, they’d all play together, making for an invigorating and different experience each time. These performances would be what made up a Case Studies record, and those players would then be responsible for handing over the tracks to musician friends.
The power of Jesse Lortz’s music lies in its undiminished tone. The first song he wrote for the Case Studies project, “Villain”, has been made anew for This Is Another Life, but retains the heat-seeking spirit it premiered with. It’s a home recording in the truest sense of the phrase, a song in which one can feel the touch of their lover anywhere, hearing their message from the road or by their side.
Jesse Lortz used to record as the Dutchess and the Duke, until he and his collaborator Kimberly Morrison parted ways. Now he records as Case Studies, a studiously manila folder-blank name. The music he makes is similarly understated, and arguing for its muted virtues can be uphill, unsexy work; if you were a fan of the National prior to Alligator, when they were a bleak, Americana-inflected Brooklyn bar band, then Case Studies may hold some appeal-- specifically, the project recalls 2003's Sad Songs for Dirty Lovers.