Beck – One Foot In The Grave

Beck – One Foot In The Grave

4/5

1994

Released on the legendary K Records, One Foot In The Grave, Beck’s third release of 1994, is the polar opposite of his previous two records: a hushed folk album, focused almost entirely on Beck and his guitar. Though Stereopathetic Soulmanure and Mellow Gold revealed his eclecticism and versatility, it was possible to mistake Beck’s music as gimmicky since all the genre-mashing and disjointed production sometimes overshadowed the quality of his songwriting. Here, however, it is clear that he is a musician of considerable depth. While he takes a few noisier detours (“Burnt Orange Peels,” “Ziplock Bag”), One Foot In The Grave finds Beck playing through a series of short, meditative tracks often with minimal arrangements. Beginning with the folk standard “He’s A Mighty Good Leader,” he reworks folk and country structures, making the album sound both modern and timeless. “Cyanide Breath Mint,” “I Get Lonesome,” and the resentful “Asshole” are particular highlights, and vocalist Sam Jayne and producer/K Records founder Calvin Johnson temper the more haunting parts of the album with warm harmonies. This is particularly true of the closing number “Atmospheric Conditions,” whose slide guitar and light percussion camouflage Beck and Johnson’s dispiritedness. Beck would later return to this straightforward singer/songwriterism on Mutations and Sea Change, but those would be cleaner, more expansive affairs. As it stands, One Foot In The Grave is an understated gem of a record, one that showed the scope of Beck’s talents, but also one he would never make again.


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Posted on March 31, 2011, in Beck. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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