Dylan Shearer’s sophomore release Porchpuddles has been described by his fellow San Franciscan and Fresh and Onlys’ frontman man Tim Cohen as having “little to no recognizable counterpart in today’s one-hit warehouse.” OK so Cohen is bigging it up to the max, but there is little doubt that Shearer has penned and performed an original record here.
There is a strong scent of the 1960s in the delivery; I can hear the ghosts of Arthur Lee’s Love, Syd Barrett and even a touch of Fairport Convention. The slowed tempos are led with loose guitars, ramshackle to the point of almost falling apart. Shearer’s lowly vocal and half-asleep delivery suggests he couldn’t care less if you discover him or not – which of course makes it even more special.
Tracks like Alright, Already and Walked Away have a poetic sadness, they stumble into melancholy via notes and chords you don’t see coming. That is where Porchpuddles’ success lies, as a record finding alternative progressions. Listen to the many rungs scaled within That’s All Folks, a running Hammond following every step, up and down, up and down.
Where I’ve Gone is another moment where the rhythm continually almost trips up, Shearer’s vocal winding alongside the ever-changing pace. It feels like these songs are streams of thought, slowing for Shearer to consider what might come next. He certainly sounds lonesome, reflective and at times introverted.
Porchpuddles may not flow with melodic beauty, but it feels like a man wandering his own mind. It just so happens he’s put some backing tracks to the journey and got it all down on tape. Tim Cohen and I are glad he has – we think you might be too.