Release Date: Sep 20, 2011
Record label: City Slang
Having disbanded Port O’Brien over creative differences following 2009's Threadbare, WATERS is ex frontman Van Pierszalowski’s new solo project. Written in Norway, New York, California and Alaska, the big question is if Out in the Light is effectively another Port O’Brien album. Yes in some respects, but no for the majority. Initially a tough decision, Pierszalowski describes the band’s split as a 'rejuvenating experience.' Whilst Port O’Brien influences are present, said rejuvenation is heard through defining new ones.
Searching for separation and clarity, Port O’Brien’s Van Pierszalowski went to the Norwegian fjords, the California coast, Alaska and even swung by Brooklyn before finally returning to his new home in Oslo to collect a band. His determination to put his experience to paper, documenting the music of this journey, as well as practicing everyday, made recording with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Explosions in the Sky, The Walkmen) possible to complete in a mere 10 days.
All Van Pierszalowski needed was a change of scenery. When his folk quartet Port O’Brien broke up in early 2010, their fans saw it as not only the end of a beautiful band but as the possible end of Pierszalowski’s music career. After all, with songwriters such as M. Ward claiming you as one of his favorite new bands just a year prior, it seemed all too underwhelming that he’d give up on the project soon thereafter.
WATERS is the new project from recently dismantled Port O’Brien’s frontman Van Pierszalowski. While demanding all capital letters seems a little ridiculous, the fruits of the effort are, fortunately, well worth the extra time with the key. Out in the Light effectively packs a punch and spotlights previously unseen dimensions of Pierszalowski’s talents: more confident vocals, deeper lyrics, and a fresh, new sound that leaves you thinking that maybe Port O’Brien’s breakup wasn’t such a bad thing after all.
Van Pierszalowski's previous efforts with Port O'Brien tended toward the simple and folksy, but a beefed-up backing band (from Norway, no less) lends his new project Waters a filled-out and fuzzed-out bravado. The frontman's voice is largely clear and earnest with grit where necessary and a dash of Neil Young's nasal falsetto, the kind of delivery just begging for a listener's impassioned sing-along. When the lyrics aren't as effective as they are on "Out of the Light," it's hard to get behind missteps like "Back to You," and while rockers like openers "For the One" and "O Holy Break of Day" land solid Band of Horses punches, not even John Congleton's rhythm-heavy production can wake up some of the album's sleepier moments ("Take Me Out to the Coast," "If I Run").