Barzin inhabits a slightly hazy world in which things move a little bit slower than normal and sensual desires seem to rule. Touching on work by Red House Painters and other similarly-minded artists, this self-titled debut album is one haunted by instruments soaked with reverb and breathy vocals. In 8 songs and 40 minutes, he presents a strong case as an artist to watch out for, even thought he wears some of his influences very forthright.
With the above statement, I'm mainly hinting at the first track on this release. "Past All Concerns" weaves a woozy bed of pedal steel, brushed drums and male/female vocals, but it sounds very very similar to "Songs For A Blue Guitar" by the aforementioned Red House Painters. If you're a fan of that group (like I am), it's almost to the point of distraction, but Barzin fortunately takes the lyrics and vocals to a much different place than Kozelek, kicking off the album with a rather seductive feel. Keeping things fairly simple in terms of instrumentation is one of the strong points of the album, and it's illustrated well on tracks like "Over My Blue." Instead of packing every corner with a melody or fill, Barzin lets the natural resonance of the instruments spill over and echo out, making each note of the keyboard and guitar/double bass ring even more efficiently.
Also because of the above, the album has a real human feel that draws the listener in nicely. Nothing on the album moves above a slow to mid tempo feel, and the warm feel of the instrumentation and Barzins hushed vocals blend together into something very human. "Pale Blue Eyes" builds into another beautiful track, again encorporating pedal steel, while "Cruel Sea" adds the slightest bit of punch to the middle of the disc with some nice piano work and a touch more oomph to the rhythm section.
"Morning Doubts" keeps the piano in, but only as spare notes that ring out behind vocals and guitar by Barzin. It's another nice example of his spare use of sound that still manages to be quite effective. If you're a fan of RHP, or even more cinematic work by Low or Tram, this is definitely a release to check out. It builds a mood nicely and keeps it there, and I'll be looking for more work from him in the future.