The Air Your Lungs Forced Out (2009)

“By whatever name he chooses to use, Washington state-based folk singer/songwriter Sarazin Blake (aka Robert Blake and Robert Sarazin Blake) is a highly contemplative and somewhat obtuse performer. On the batch of songs making up his sixth album, The Air Your Lungs Forced Out, he sings in a sonorous half-spoken baritone that recalls such predecessors as Johnny Cash, Fred Neil, and Jonathan Richman, and like them is unconcerned about going flat or droning a little now and then. His voice dominates his small band (himself on guitar, Mike Grigoni on a lonesome-sounding pedal steel, Josh Brahinsky on upright bass, and Jordan Rain on drums) in arrangements that have the ragged quality not just of first takes, but first run-throughs. (Indeed, the album begins with Blake saying he is going to plug in his guitar, and there are little noodling interludes between songs, plus one of those irritating "hidden tracks" of instrumental messing around following a minute and 43 seconds of silence after the eighth track.) This ramshackle approach actually benefits the songs, giving them a sense of off the cuff spontaneity, as if Blake were coming up with the lyrics and the melodies on the spot, just as the band is attempting to follow him. But the words are too well crafted for that, most of them close-up observations of interpersonal relations, along with one political screed ("Mid-Term Elections [2006, Nov]") that was well out of date by the time the album was released. Yet Blake is as concerned with achieving an atmospheric mood with his music as he is with conveying the intimate meanings of his songs. It's a distinctive approach that he pursues with assurance.”
- William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide/Billboard

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