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P.G. Six - Slightly Sorry

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Artist: P.G. Six

Album: Slightly Sorry

Label: Drag City

Review date: Feb. 20, 2007

P.G. Six has been around for a while now, as a member of Tower Recordings and a solo artist. With Tower, he has generally been a steadying influence; the voice of Brit-folk soul and structure (not to mention the voice that generally hit the right notes). His two previous song-oriented albums (there’s also The Sherman Box Series, a beautiful instrumental set that exists in its own musical zone) have confirmed Pat Gubler, the man behind the pseudonym, as a one of impeccable taste and considerable talent, capable of evoking Martin Carthy and Bert Jansch with his picking, then Harmonia and Eno with his arranging – game for an Anne Briggs cover, ready to offer a tip of the harp to Robin Williamson. He also tends to over-value restraint; I can’t tell you how pleased I was to see the guy rock out with an electric band a while back and commune with his inner Crazy Horse. But there I go again, dropping names. Will the real P.G. Six stand up? More to the point, can his own work stand up to that of the musicians he honors?

So far, not really; while Slightly Sorry is a very enjoyable record, it’s not likely to muscle Pour Down Like Silver or The North Star Grassman And The Ravens out of the way. The writing lacks their absolute assuredness, the playing and arranging needs more of their just-what’s-right-but-it’s-so-right essentialness, and overall the performances feel a little too tidy and careful; one wonders if a bit of steady gigging with the band before these songs were tracked might have yielded some ragged glory.

But take it for what it is, rather than what it is not, and there’s a lot to like about Slightly Sorry. Gubler’s picking is resonant and elegant throughout, never more so than on when he accompanies guest vocalist and fellow Tower Recordings alumnus Helen Rush on the appealingly melancholy “End of Winter.” His knack for nicking the right things from his record collection is undeniable; “I’ve Been Traveling” has as much melodious yearning as the Byrds songs from which it lifts its harmonies and jangle, and at under two minutes it wisely leaves you wanting more. Best of all, while he invests a lot of haunted eeriness and undeniable soul into the gorgeous Jeffrey Cain cover, “Not I The Seed,” he doesn’t overplay the sorry hand — the gospel-dunked “Sweet Music” ends the record on a welcome redemptive note. Slightly Sorry may not be a major work, but it’s not at all slight.

By Bill Meyer

Other Reviews of P.G. Six

Parlor Tricks and Porch Favorites

The Well of Memory

Music from the Sherman Box Series and Other Works

Starry Mind

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View all articles by Bill Meyer

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