Singer-songwriter Nick Loss-Eaton is Leland Sundries and on The Apothecary EP he offers up 5 songs that traverse vintage Americana territory by way of modern Brooklyn. Nick plays guitar, accordion, banjo, and harmonica and is accompanied by David Kross on bass guitar, Joe Lops on electric guitar, Adam Blake on drums, and Quinn McCarthy on tambourine and glockenspiel on this indie-folk/rock EP that has been released by L’Echiquier Records.
While all the songs feature old-fashioned instruments and song structures, they are not a faithful retread of the past, but are revamped for the here ‘n’ now by Nick’s dry (in tone and sentiment) sing-talking (with the emphasis on talking) vocals and candid, acerbic lyrics. Some songs go even farther afield of Americana with tweaks of sharp electric guitar and hard-hitting drums.
The EP’s opening and closing numbers, “Elegy” and “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby” respectively, lean towards a measured-pace, alt-country sound with an instrumental backing of picked and strummed guitars that support Nick’s reflective, deadpan vocals. On “Elegy” Nick intones that a house is in decay and friends are dying, and that “…time is slipping away.” amid bright banjo pluck and the occasional bittersweet harmonica pull. Nick confesses flatly “I got a girl I never see… / make a fool of me.” on the broke-down ballad “Oh My Sweet Cantankerous Baby”. He’s joined by the sweet tones of Laura Minor on the chorus sections as a wavering Western guitar line and expressive harmonica break over the bleak scene.
The EP gains some international flair and far-from-Americana sonics with the lyrics-heavy “The Man In the Giant Russian Overcoat”. Nick sounds like John (or is it John?) of They Might Be Giants with his matter-of-fact tone on the lyrics “I got my gun. I took a left / Feeling a tad spiritually bereft…” as he reminisces about a girl who left him for a man in, guess what?, a giant Russian overcoat. The drums are emphatically smacked, there are occasional chiming tings, tambourine hits, and a loose-limbed guitar refrain that recalls “London Calling” by The Clash.