by Zoe McCrea
Aaron Powell has become a household name when it comes to bedroom pop. If you’ve ever spent hours scouring Bandcamp looking for your next lo-fi obsession, Powell’s project Fog Lake was probably the exact sound you were craving. From a rural small town on the East Coast, Powell started his project Fog Lake after getting into scoring film with friends – which didn’t come as a surprise to me. The layered soundscapes Powell creates tell the isolating stories of his songs as much as his writing does.
Tragedy Reel is the sixth full length album from Fog Lake and it is as tender and reflective as we’ve come to expect, but this time feels less nostalgic and more restless. Right off the bat the opening lines of “Crystalline” start illustrating a complicated relationship with coming home: “Fancy the way you let me down / no one gets even in this town. I’ve been away for so long, stuck inside a whirlwind. Crystalline still sinking in, I masqueraded so long.” It feels returning to a place that you’ve outgrown.
“Jitterbug” the first single from the album, is understated yet bubbly and had me wanting to sing along before I knew the words. Muffled vocals and hazy synth ground the song, but it’s a light and hopeful moment on the album.
The restless energy is ramped up on “Dakota.” Powell taps into an Americana sound with violin, banjo and keys whirling together softly. “Speeding away south of North Dakota. A rockstar, guitar and a fast car. Cause I wouldn’t wanna stay here with you but I don’t wanna leave here without you.” The song takes you to an open road, but not a road of possibility – more like an escape route that leads nowhere. Like trying to outrun your thoughts.
Tragedy Reel plays through like there are memories playing on projector screens all around you, revealing the people and events that shaped you; to learn from them and hopefully to heal. A major theme over this past year, for a lot of us, seems to be reflection – so I couldn’t think of a better time for this latest Fog Lake album.