ST. LENOX: I Still Dream Of The ’90s

“Your music really moves me, and I want to thank you for it.”
— John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats

DUSTED: The foremost thing here is the voice. It’s fluent, yanking melodies out of lines overstuffed with words. In the songs of St. Lenox, one would assume the prose came first, before the meter, but the voice finds a rhythm and it doesn’t always fall where it’s expected. It’s both clear and buzzy, not quite androngynous like the croon of Jimmy Scott, but residing in the same uncanny cabaret. How did Andy Choi develop this helium-dosed soar, somewhere between honest tabernacle rafter-shaking and a jumbo mumble? Even after listening to all of 10 Songs About Memory and Hope, I can’t imagine him singing another songwriter’s material, and not just because these songs seem autobiographical. I’d hazard that the confessions include Mountain Goatsesque fictions, given that he mingles detailed memories with slightly sci-fi skews of the present. But he belts them with an utter lack of guile, and the lack of emotional blinders, along with their minimal but sophisticated backing, overcomes the eccentricities. You want to hang out with the guy. You want to hear him talk. […] He paints a landscape of strip mall sprawl that could be a lot of places, and his landscapes feel familiar even if you didn’t grow up in the mid-’90s or the suburbs. On “You’re Not Here,” Choi walks around Manhattan, torch singing over Harold Arlen fakebook chords on an electric clav, but it doesn’t feel urbane. It’s like a future memory, recounting current cosmopolitan heartbreak before he’ll be banished back to the Holiday Inn on the strip from whence he was birthed. MORE