Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest there lives the ghost of some great folkloric deity, a celestial being that energizes the region with the gift of storytelling and individuality. When Jeff Walls, better known as Campfires, moved from Chicago to Portland, this supernatural entity embodied his music and his tales, turning homespun pop into idyllic folk illustrations.
On his newest record, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Walls refines a lot of what he infected us with on 2011’s Slaughter Tropes. Less about frantic tambourine shaking and more focused on palatable, toe-tapping rhythms, Tomorrow, Tomorrow’s foundation is built squarely on consistency and availability. Akin to actual songs you could hear around a campfire, the album houses short bursts of guitar and simple percussion that functions as a medium for delivering obvious, but never boring stories.
As Walls sings in his most relaxed tone, “It’s been a little long, I’ve been a little stoned, it’s been a little lie, it’s been a little strange / Another week, another day, another time” on “Time for a Ride”, it’s obvious that he has little concern for embellishing his life. Honest, if maybe not a little trite, songwriting goes a long way on Tomorrow, Tomorrow, making refrains like “dream my life away” on “Simple Things” seem almost admirable.
What sounds anachronistic resolves itself to be charming and inviting throughout all of Tomorrow, Tomorrow. It’s a record so unapologetic about its home recording methods and lo-fi peculiarity; for example, the jaunty, acoustic guitar on “Acre Looks” or “Glass Arrows” brings to mind the raw naturalism behind Real Estate or The Microphones. Yet it’s also an effort born out of character and experience. No matter how banal or plain they might be, Walls relays his anecdotes with an organic and honest tinge, giving Tomorrow, Tomorrow an unadulterated sing-along style appeal.
Essential Tracks: ”Acres Looks”, “Glass Arrows”