Voices In The Fog, Dennis Driscoll’s new album on K Records, is dominated by simple, pretty love songs driven by acoustic guitar and Driscoll’s faltering, slightly fey singing voice. The wide-eyed, unabashedly romantic notions that dominated 50s teen-pop also take a front seat here. “Stormy Weather” is a good example. “It’s a rainy day today,” Driscoll croons. “Where oh where is my true love on this autumn day?” He listens to the rain pattering on his window. “Maybe I’ll put my raincoat on, and my galoshes,” he continues, “And go downtown to see what came in the mail.” Galoshes? Honestly. But that’s the thing about Voices. If you have a sensitive bone in your body, you’ll likely fall for Driscoll and his collection of lo-ish-fi love songs. It’s the kind of lovelorn stuff that made all the sensitive guys (and girls) tear up during the “Your Eyes” scene in Say Anything.
There is a bit more to Driscoll’s songs than drippy lyrics and gentle acoustic guitar plucked from the brows of ex-girlfriends. Numbers like “Waitress and Sailor” hide their lyrical complexity within the ostensibly simple delivery; “Moon Patrol” adds the perfect hint of theremin to suggest Les Baxter if he’d written love songs with Buddy Holly.
K’s onesheet on Dennis describes him as such: “[H]e breathes in the evening breeze in Olympia and blows out magical puffs of smoke…[h]e calls these smoke-puffs songs and records them regularly for all to hear.” Which is copy in the classic K tradition. It’s a label that’s always adored soft-focus things like puppets, pies, and cardigan sweaters. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, K impresario Calvin Johnson’s vision of a world populated by friendly people making fun out of nothing at all was (and is) as punk rock as any jackbooted Crass fan’s notions of bombing 10 Downing Street. Driscoll’s acoustic whimsy only continues the particular brand of punk put forth by twee rockers such as Beat Happening (Calvin produced Voices from the helm at Dub Narcotic Studios), Six Cents and Natalie, and The Crabs.
So. You’re feeling sad, or maybe you miss your sailor boyfriend who shipped out two weeks ago? Maybe it’s beginning to get cold and gray where you live. If you’re looking for a record to wear scarves to, Dennis Driscoll’s Voices In The Fog just might be the hot cup of tea you need.