. issue XXI : iv .
Maston’s Shadows sounds like a non-sinister accompaniment to Seurat’s Sideshow, part twangy musak with a spaghetti twist, part psych-folk magnificently-layered wedding cake. Most songs clock in around 2 minutes, like lovely postcards with Maston’s aesthetic written all over; for instance, as with his song-title choices, see “flutter,” “alabaster” and “strange.” Like an ephemeral polka of a clippity clap, the cadence is empyrean kitsch, magnified and refracted at each level thousandfold, ‘til encompassing in scope. Shadows is an album of freakily chipper pomp and circumstance, the flushed and vivid glow of floridly orchestrated jangles, the tangy organ against the bah-bums of tuba and bass drum, the twinkle of xylophone and bright guitar.
Standout “Young Hearts” is a dapper, theramin-and-horn-laden cakewalk, possessed by the weird resonance of Davy Graham’s psych-folky guitar and a bell-horned, candelabra-ed, tableclothed parlor shimmy of taxidermic waltz. Maston’s voice shimmers like a dapper, heart-rending lovechild of Ben Gibbard and Fred Neil as he croons, “I know your heart is true, because mine is too,” both bedroom-raw and old fashion debonair.
Lovely and discordant, Shadows is a timecapsule gem (both transcendentally eternal and chintzily dated) wrapped in tissue paper rind ivoried with age, smelling of sunlit attic musk, and sounding with the wonky, honest croon of a music box. Both stiltedly arcane and insanely accessible, it’s a bouquet of white peonies, baby’s breath, garlands and heather that waft a hypnotic, phosphorescent vapor. Its suffused production is exceptional: baroque, cinereal and as emotive as the cover, its sleepy-eyed slit of sun rolling over under the hills among impressionist amaranthine swathes of cloud and ground.