[Editor's note: After its release, this album is no longer streaming. Preview it below or by visiting The Great American Desert's Bandcamp page.]
by Michael Todd
The search today for nonpartisan, plainspoken music is about as fruitless as the search about 200 years ago for land to cultivate in this desert of a region. The language of songs is often opinionated or colored with words of the day that 10 years down the road will sound anachronistic.
Not to say Max Holmquist on stage isn't playing a part that's from the past, but the characters within his songs are timeless. Just like the landscape of the Plains was chiseled and eroded by the wind, by the water that was once plentiful, the characters of Holmquist's project, The Great American Desert, are worn down by years of ups and downs. They might be taken from stories of grandparents or strangers far away, but Holmquist sings of problems that afflict men and women just as they always have.
There's a slight hiss that opens each of the tracks on Carson City, released June 26 on Yer Bird Records. The hiss is still there after the brief silence to start, but it's Holmquist's voice and guitar — about as stark a palette as it gets — that fills the audible emptiness by talking of gamblers, runaways and dead-ends. The unforgiving elements might keep wearing these folks down, but beneath their hard outer shell is an aquifer, a potential still for some kind of rescue from the hard times. Thing is, Holmquist won't say whether they're ever redeemed.
to be released June 26, 2012
All songs written and performed by Max Holmquist.
Recorded at Off-White.
Engineered and Mixed by Ian Aeillo.
Mastered by Matt Hovanec.
Album photos by Daniel Muller.
Album Design by Jeremy Wardlaw.
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor. He's proud to have arranged in part this week's trio of album premieres: Listen also to The Betties' Hold Me Tight and Low Horse's Songs. Reach Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.