It is easy to perceive Chris Garneau's new record El Radio as a dramatic seasonal change, an event horizon, perhaps a carnival or even a birthday. It's that way for the best of records: the ones that change from pieces of plastic and wax into something that penetrate the heart and the mind. There's a twinkle in the eye of this young Brooklyn songwriter and more than a bit of magic in that vulnerable yet brave voice of his, floating above us all yet tethered by the silky strands of the songs themselves.
Chris' debut album Music For Tourists (2007) was sad and sparse and gorgeous, drawing inspiration from Chris' own life for its subject matter. The album found its audience like a migrating colony of butterflies and every week since the album's release, thirty, fifty, hundreds of people have captured it or perhaps been captured by it. When a record finds its audience in this way and those butterflies flutter brightly in all directions and you start seeing blog posts (outside the so-called sphere) and tweets and interview mentions that say, 'one of my favorite singers, Chris Garneau', well, it's more satisfying and real and special. In the summer and autumn months that followed, Garneau and friends piled into a van with as many instruments as they could fit and traveled north to New Hampshire to begin creating El Radio.
Surrounded by the simplicity of lake and mountains, the intricate process of making an utterly organic record began. The result exceeds all expectations. A rich harmonium and a wave of strings opens the album in "The Leaving Song". Chris describes loss of life as standing in the desert on a warm spring day. A hummingbird lands in the palm of his hand. When it flies off, the metaphor in the song is born. "You have to let them leave and pretend like you don't want to go with