Gregory Uhlmann - Neighborhood Watch
“With this unusual and delightful combination of rock, folk, ambient, and psychedelia, Gregory Uhlmann may have stumbled upon a brand new genre.” – PopMatters (8/10)
““Santa Fe” is doused in wonder and brimming with imagination and possibility. […] It’s a glorious world to inhabit, and the lushness of his ambient, orchestral pop paired with the intimacy of these lines is an incredibly heartfelt combination.” – Paste Magazine
““Santa Fe” swells and sweeps with an oceanic might, blending song craft with pop set pieces fit for massive soundstages.” – Week in Pop
“Rising and falling in heavy waves of lush overdrive and hypnotizing vocals, “Spice Girls” is a raw outpouring ready for sweet release.” – Atwood Magazine
The singer-songwriter and guitarist Gregory Uhlmann, a member of Perfume Genius, Fell Runner and the genre-bending improvising trio Typical Sisters, has in the past found loveliness in dark places. His acclaimed solo album of 2016, Odd Job (Dog Legs Music), blended “lush, hypnotic, minimalist chamber-pop with compelling, introspective folk melancholy,” per the Big Takeover. The Chicago Reader had equally high praise for Uhlmann’s “tender singer-songwriter album,” a collection of “beautiful melodies with somber, baroque arrangements.”
For Uhlmann, Odd Job came from a place of yearning and longing—an expression of a young songwriter looking back, often in sadness or regret or angst. But his new project, Neighborhood Watch, while also rich in melodic and textural allure, comes from a place of contentment. Consider it a meditation on domestic bliss experienced in early adulthood, an expression of the sweetness, good humor and fond reflections Uhlmann is compelled toward at this happy place in his life. “Neighborhood Watch is a cozy portrait of grains of sand, cats, ants, getting colds, letting loose, feeling shy, watching movies, and being in love,” the songwriter says.
It’s also, somewhat ironically, a brilliant team effort involving several of Uhlmann’s favorite musicians and most trusted collaborators: Josh Johnson, keys; Anna Butterss, bass; Tim Carr, drums and voice; Matt Carroll, percussion; Lauren Baba, violin and viola; and April Guthrie on cello. Consistent with the majority of Uhlmann’s work, the songs on Neighborhood Watch match consummate musicianship and thoughtful songcraft with an innate gift for melody, and that lyricism is channeled through Uhlmann’s unique singing voice—soft and balmy yet also direct and affecting. Ultimately, the results summon up a number of touchstones in smart, studio-conscious orchestral pop, psychedelic folk and indie-rock: Think of Van Dyke Parks, the Zombies, Cate le Bon, and Bill Callahan.
Uhlmann enlists vocal help from Meg Duffy (Hand Habits) on “Santa Fe,” a charming reverie in which the songwriter warmly ponders the spring-break trips he took to visit his grandparents. “Coupon” is another poetic travelogue of sorts, this time about a family sojourn to New York.
Neighborhood Watch is Uhlmann’s most definitive—and private, and fulfilled—effort yet. “This album reflects where I’m at in my life. It feels more grown up, but still contains a certain level of uncertainty and searching. I think I’ll always be looking for answers, but I’m more comfortable with the idea that there are not always clear cut solutions and that’s ok,” he says.