(AS003) Small Sur: Bare Black
’s latest offering, Bare Black
, is mood music at its best. This three-song EP transports the listener into a world occupied by lush drones, heartbreaking melodies, subtle hooks, and carefully crafted, minimalist arrangements. A classic foundation (guitar, bass, piano, and percussion) provides the music’s heartbeat, with sometimes unexpected swells of exquisite texture from banjo, pedal steel, alto saxophone, and cello. Delivered with the fragile sincerity of Nick Drake or Will Oldham, Keal’s tender, haunting vocals remain the centerpiece throughout—his lyrics as steadfast as ever in their evocation of Steinbeck’s realism, Whitman’s over-joyous transcendentalism, and Little Wings’ guru Kyle Field’s child-like wonder.
More About Small Sur
Small Sur stands opposed to today’s quantity-over-quality stampede, in which the pursuit of fleeting Internet notoriety threatens creative continuity, growth, and a sustained sonic relationship that honors the listener as well as the creator. The band’s patient, near-obsessive exploration of warmth, depth,
and space makes each offering an experience rich in sensory detail—quietly compelling listeners to turn their iPods off shuffle and allow the entire release to envelop them from start to finish.
Small Sur is the primary musical alias of Baltimore-based songwriter Bob Keal and current collaborators Austin Stahl and Andy Abelow. The project was born during the spring of 2005 in a friend’s Southern California bedroom, where Keal recorded the self-titled Small Sur EP shortly before relocating to the East Coast. The EP saw a limited release on The Beechfields Record Label in 2006 and quickly went out of print. 2008 marked the release of their full-length debut, We Live in Houses Made of Wood, which garnered critical praise from the likes of Tiny Mix Tapes and NPR. With the addition of 2010’s Bare Black EP, Small Sur’s gracefully growing discography emerges as the next great discovery to spring forth from the lauded and active Baltimore scene—refining the band’s singular, understated ability to capture and extend life’s fleeting moments of breathtaking beauty.