From the Dylanesque country rocker "A Little Excited" to the ambient space trip "The Moon Is Nearly Full," this is singer/songwriter Brown’s best album. The Midwestern troubadour shifts his low, warm oaken voice into character from song to song, spinning the latter tune’s tale of personal ghosts in a distorted beyond-the-grave baritone (achieved by running his vocals through an amplifier) as slide guitars deliver windswept banshee cries. For the melody of "Smell the Coffee," he slips into his sweetest register to put a playful edge on the lyrics’ gentle series of small-factory-town postcards. He’s gentler still on the love song "Never So Far." And though chorused electric guitars ring through the mix and occasionally the music incorporates psychedelic elements, the arrangements remain uncluttered. So touches like bass solos and delay treatments don’t interfere with the organic spirit of Brown’s art.
It helps that the opening number is just his voice and a banjo; they draw in a veil of darkness with the sad, prayerful lament "Lull It By." That performance recalls the potent sense of impending doom in the work of mountain-music recording pioneers like Dock Boggs. With the mood thus established, Brown is free to take the rest of the album anywhere he pleases without compromising his standing as a folk heavyweight — even as he makes a disc that could easily please a wider audience.