Michigan-based folk-country band Frontier Ruckus
has a sound that is oddly lush, and yet somehow sparse and elegantly simple, the way a river moves through different landscapes when seen from above, calm and tranquil, but underneath every molecule is in motion. Led by the songs and singing of Matthew Milia, the band's songs are all about a kind of artful, literary nostalgia, remembering places, conversations, important meetings, and partings, all set against the geography of Michigan. Yes, this is a Michigan band, but Milia sings about his home as if it were standing in for the experience of growing and living anywhere, a kind of personal Spoon River Anthology
as done by early R.E.M.
, say, with a sad lilt and a yearning for the ghosts of the past to make sense. This set, a sprawling 20 songs spread over two discs, is wonderfully unified, with a ghostly, flickering soundscape playing out behind Milia's sad but still reaffirming singing. This isn't rocking dance music (although you'll still tap your feet). It's more like a kind of back-porch twilight session that works because it's telling a story, an intertwined story of growing up in Southeast Michigan, coping with everything that comes with that, that comes with growing up anywhere at all. This is Americana wrought with the vision of a poet, intelligent and lyrical but not unnaturally so. Engineered and produced by Jim Roll
at Backseat Productions in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Eternity of Dimming
is a beautiful, nostalgic (in the best meaning of the word) hymn to time and place, a long suite of songs that falls together like a wonderful quilt of memories.