I give Ezra Furman's first solo record The Year of No Returning four stars at Blurt today.
The Year of No Returning
BY JENNIFER KELLY
All by himself for the first time, songwriter Ezra Furman struck out in a lot of different ways on The Year of No Returning. He made the record shortly after dissolving Ezra and the Harpoons, his band since college, which had hit its critical high water mark with the 2011 release Mysterious Power.
Moving back to Chicago, holing up in an attic studio, working with a revolving crew of local musicians, it all seemed to free him to work in a variety of styles. The record swaggers– and mostly successfully — through garage rock, Dylan-ish rasping acoustic, piano ballads, epic psychedelic and rollicking country rock. Emotions run raw through all these styles – even at his smoothest and most ballad-y, Furman’s voice cracks and hiccups with feeling. Yet there’s a sleekness, a feeling of finish and craftsmanship, in cuts like “Lay in the Sun” and “Down”. Mysterious Power felt like a fast, rattling joyride. Year of No Returning seems more like a Sunday excursion to the local scenic high points.