Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard - One Fast Move Or I'm GoneJay Farrar & Benjamin GibbardOne Fast Move or I’m Gone (Atlantic)

I have to admit I was a little baffled by the teaming of Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard for this project. As I said when news of the partnership broke, the only common trait I saw between the two was that each had a unique voice. I mean, this is one of the kings of alt-country working alongside one of the kings of slightly fey teen pop. But then I focused on their words.

It turns out this is one of those head-slapping “eureka” moments. Of course Farrar and Gibbard are working together. Of course it makes sense. The other thing these guys have in common with each other is what they have in common with Jack Kerouac: their rich use of imagery to convey a story. What we have here is the Alt-Country King who wrote “The news travels slower than a ten-second buzz” and the Indie Pop King who wrote “You may tire of me as our December sun is setting” interpreting the words of the Beat King who wrote “The church is blowing a sad windblown ‘Kathleen’ on the bells in the skid row slums.” Can you dig it?

One Fast Move or I’m Gone is a collection of 12 songs, the lyrics for which Farrar says are about 90% drawn from Kerouac’s own words. Whatever is in that other 10% is what takes this set from a pretty soundtrack for poetry reading to finely crafted songwriting. They convey a spirit and identity that is as much a reflection of Farrar and Gibbard as Kerouac, which is quite a feat considering the literary giant that Kerouac’s legend has become in the decades since his death.

Musically the album pulls more from what you might expect from Farrar’s background than from Gibbard’s and that’s probably because Farrar is credited with the co-writing of most of the album (with Kerouac), but each singer’s distinct style comes through and somehow feels entirely right. Despite these unique styles, there’s a cohesion and consistency to the album and perhaps that’s due to the source of the lyrics. Who knows? It works. It works surprisingly well.

Reviewing this album reminded me how badly I want to see this film and how much I loved Kerouac in my early 20s. It’s been several years since I’ve revisited one of his novels. It’s clearly time.

Video: Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard – “One Fast Move or I’m Gone” 10/23/09 @ El Rey Theatre

Stream (clips): Jay Farrar & Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone

Jay Farrar: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

Benjamin Gibbard: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

One Fast Move Or I’m Gone: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki

9 thoughts on “Jay Farrar and Benjamin Gibbard – One Fast Move Or I’m Gone”

  1. For the record, Gibbard has solo credit for writing the title track, plus co-writes with Farrar and Kerouac on “Willamine” and “The Void.” The remaining nine tracks are all Farrar/Kerouac. That’s no knock on Gibbard — he and Farrar co-produced all of the songs (with Jim Sampas and Mark Spencer) — but I just wanted to point that out…in these days of no-liner-notes digital downloads. Especially when all the promo material suggests a more collaborative effort. Turns out, not so much in the songwriting…

  2. Liked the clips I heard on Amazon. Pretty happening, as a matter of fact.

    Nice surprise. And Gibbard’s voice fits the material nicely.

    Um, speaking of BG, “one of the kings of slightly fey teen pop” is kinda harsh. It’s not like he’s Conor Oberst, or My Chemical Romance, or the Dashboard Confessional dude.

  3. Kiko, I love that you’re on my ass with every review I write, it keeps me sharp. But to deny that there’s a fey sense to Death for Cutie (which isn’t a knock–I am a big fan even) is just silly. It wasn’t meant to be harsh, it was meant to draw a contrast between Farrar’s decidedly scruffy and rough-around-the-edges persona and music with Gibbard’s. At first glance, this seemed like an odd pairing.

    Back to the music: this album has been on my heavy rotation list for the last few weeks. I don’t know if my fondness for the album came through enough in the review. This is a BUY record.

  4. Dude, I’m not trying to hassle you. Seriously. But regardless of your intent, I just felt you were a bit harsh in trying to illuminate the differences between Gibbard and Farrar. I mean, if I didn’t know DCFC, my first reaction to your description probably would’ve been “Huh? Does he mean Antony and the Johnstons-type fey?” Maybe it’s me, but calling the guy “one of the kings of slightly fey teen pop” makes Robert Smith sound like Phil Anselmo, in comparison.

    And yes, your fondness for the album does come across and I share it. Plus, I thank you for turning me on to the album. Are we cool now?

Leave a Reply