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After the demise of his indie-pop low-fi duo Butterglory (Matt Suggs and Deborah Vander Wall), Suggs returned to his hometown to chill out and lie low. Three years later, he's emerged with a collection of poetic, folk-tinged pop songs. Far from the Pavementesque stylings of his former band, Suggs explores characters and relationships with the elegant imagination and visual power of an early Ray Davies. The opening cut, "Skeleton Blues in b flat minor," is a laid-back shuffle that starts with Suggs' emotive warble accompanied only by a Leon Russell '60s piano. (The band kicks in after a verse.)

Using the country twang of Neil Young's folk/rock material, the Visalia, Calif., native evokes the mythic West with wistful tales of zephyr winds and empty graves--the way Cormac McCarthy might if he sat down with a lap steel or mandolin. "Farewell to a Tightrope Queen" is a barrelhouse piano piece with a dancehall vibe (images of carousels and old confetti litter these songs, as well as eerie religious references), while on other tracks Suggs sounds like some lost contemporary of Nick Drake.

A well-executed comeback album, Golden days before they end puts Suggs on the Will Oldham (Palace) school of songwriting, eschewing movements or trends with its batch of timeless, heartfelt songs.

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More by Angie Carlson

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