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The New Zeitgeist

Myths and Mortals – 2017 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The New Zeitgeist

Jen Reilly and Eddy Bluma, the Chicago based duo that dubs themselves The New Zeitgeist, met as solo artists in 2009. Eight years later, they have created a particular branding that relies on heady perception, a knowing perspective and a haunting goth/folk/country sound. In a sense, "Myths and Mortals" portends to be something significant, whether it's through the pair's obvious reverence for traditional roots or a general sort of circumspect that suggests they're aiming for a philosophically higher ground. In fact, it's a level of awareness that only book literate, fully cognisant listeners might find cause to fully appreciate.

Like the Handsome Family and forlorn folksters of an earlier era, Reilly and Bluma harbor the spirits that dwell in the hidden hollows of Appalachia and the dust-blown stretches of far western prairies. There's a mournful sadness that seeps through these songs like the wind through a creaky screen door, all barren emotion and weary resignation. Reilly wails and moans in ways that elevate these plaintive melodies to a higher purpose, giving songs such as "The Ghost Trail" and "Old Hammerin' Bill" a vivid tone and trapping that's as darkly descriptive as the names imply. Reilly and Bluma are old souls in every sense - stoic, solid and sincere, bound to a tireless tradition that serves both the imagery and their intentions very well.

Ultimately, "Myths and Mortals" may prove to be too deliberative and pensive for some, too dire and despondent for others. None of that should be surprising, given the fact that the pair have carved out a vintage-sounding niche. Still, those that admire a certain seminal style may will be entranced, drawn to the cerebral suggestion that this rugged gem of a record has to offer.