Field Days’ “Projector”
“Projector never ventures somewhere that feels foreign; it just keeps you on your toes.” -BYBeth Yeckley
out of 10
April 13, 2010
The first time I played through Field Days’ Projector, I had no idea I was listening to a one-man band. It’s not hard to imagine Patrick Damphier (touring bassist for The Mynabirds) playing, singing, writing, and master-minding the album; it’s just surprising to hear such a full and bold sound coming from his parent’s basement. This album, which is his first, offers stories that are lyrically well-constructed and entertaining with unique characters, musically intriguing, and rarely sound the same from track to track.
Damphier channels various influences, from the twang and whiskey eyed “Half Past Tennessee” (“There’s a ghost who pretends he’s Hank Williams/ In a dress, made up like Patsy Cline/ Hustlin’ drinks from a derelict Jesus/ They’re all personal friends of mine.”) to the subtle beat boxing percussion on “Inside Opinion.” He nails the singer/songwriter clean guitar picking on songs like “Polar Opposites” and “Speak Your Language.” With very few guests on the album to offer drums or vocals or counting and stomping, Damphier thoughtfully uses his guitar and vocal range to really define the feel of each song. “Going Back In Time” is one of my favorites, with faster, repetitive strumming and less melodic singing to introduce a story that starts: “170 East 43rd/ In the kitchen of apartment C/ An office clerk and an ex-marine/ Prepare to disagree/ A verbal tug of war erupts/ Results in serious crime/ The one left standin’ wishes/ He was goin’ back in time.” And then it’s followed by a “Whoooooooaaaaaoooo” that is such a minor detail in the scale of the whole album, but is one of my favorite vocal moments for Damphier because he can belt it out.
It always makes it easier for me to try and fit an album into a certain set of categories, but it’s truly difficult to do with Projector. As the album progresses, “Old Soldier” casts its story over a harmonica breathing heavy, adding great texture to the guitar. “Whoa Today” is one of the few times we hear percussion, and the overall arrangement is nice, leading from subdued guitar and near-whisper singing to a break away chorus that opens up the song. “Proud Trees” is a nice end to the album; it sounds a little faded out and offers some reverb, which works well since the album hasn’t taken on this feel yet. And that’s pretty much what you can expect on the album: a lot of different sounds. Projector never ventures somewhere that feels foreign; it just keeps you on your toes.