Aaron Scholz – Perfect Child

Aaron Scholz
Perfect Child

Falling between the cracks of categorization, Aaron Scholz’s unassuming brand of AM radio country-folk beautifully sidesteps any of the redundancies associated with the current crop of alternative country and contemporary folk artists. In fact, the lo-fi production and understated pop melodies of these burnt old tales of cheated lovers and dusty-eyed travelers sounds more like Jay Farrar fronting the Silver Jews than anything in vogue today.

Opening with the strummed acoustic guitar and lovely harmonica of “Zero Street,” you know that you’ve heard this done countless times before, but the warm organic textures created by the brushed drums and Scholz’s worn out voice almost make you want to sympathize with the “two nothin’s living on a zero street.” Scholz’s style flourishes with a careful minimalism, adding clean electric guitar chords over the steady acoustic strums that keep time with Scholz’s metronome-like drumming. However much you may dig the lo-fi aesthetic, it’s Scholz’s penchant for tossing out beautifully weary melodies, similar to Beck’s more folkish work, that makes Perfect Child such a durable listen. The murder ballad feel of “Tonight” and the pop perfect sing-a-long “Slipped Right Down” further fill out an album that comes across with an amazingly honest clarity.

The shimmering electric guitar lines climbing and descending “Sunset” are further echoed by unexpected minor chord changes that just make the song sadder and more pleasantly depressed. The stop-start guitars and thumping drums of “Lovedom,” with Scholz’s harmonizing with himself and adding backing vocals, almost recalls a Beatles sensibility. Certainly, Scholz finds some Lennon-esque chord progressions in “Aching Love,” one of the many instantly memorable melodies among these eleven tracks.

In the end, it’s hard to explain this album’s power. The songs are never roused out of their laidback dreaminess, most evoke similar feelings, most have similar instrumentation, and most make no major statements, musical or otherwise. But I think that this inexplicable attraction is a good thing. Many times, the great albums are those that you may not be able to articulate because they hit you at such an organic level. Aaron Scholz’s Perfect Child is definitely such an album.