These cuts move well enough without the recording backstory, but dig this: Tom Brosseau and John Parish (longtime PJ Harvey collaborator, Sparklehorse producer, and all-around underrated genius) put the whole record live to tape, the 5-piece gathered around a single microphone, Sun Studio-style, in Bristol, England. Brosseau says,
If the drums were coming across too loudly, the drummer would have to move his kit a plank or two of the stage back from the mic. If the bass needed to come up, the bass moved a plank towards the mic… There’d be no overdubbing, no raising or lowering the levels of any one instrument. So, the album you now hear is simply the choosing of which take of which songs.
The point was not to break out some retro party trick. Nor was it to conjure the ghost of Sam Phillips or invoke some kind of historical pathos. Simply put, Parish and Brosseau took on the best — old and modern — approach toward catching the intimate and immediate lost magic of live takes — with fine songwriting and a compelling voice worthy of such things to boot. Brosseau introduces Perfect Abandon (and himself) by telling a half-sung story:
‘Hard Luck Boy’
From then on, it isn’t hard at all to “roll along” with him for 9 more tracks:
‘Roll Along With Me’ Video