Reviews

Case Studies makes minor case of post-Dutchess & The Duke debut

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The World is Just a Shape to Fill the Night

Case Studies

Release Date: Aug 16, 11

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If you ever listened to folk from the 00s, then you probably have heard The Dutchess and the Duke‘s first single release from 2007, “Reservoir Park.” If you followed the Seattle-based band, then you already know they disbanded last October and male front Jesse Lortz stuck to being a Seattle-based musician. Recording as Case Studies, Lortz went to a secluded cabin where he recruited an assortment of friends to lend themselves to the project, which was recorded at various studios in the Northwest. The result, The World is Just a Shape to Fill the Night, is the first consecrated step in the project, which has plans to change with time. Whether or not the change is drastic, or entirely true, Lortz has come up with something settled and familiar sounding, even if it’s not all that far-reaching from his previous act.

Like some country-western lonely-cowboy anthem, “From the Blade of My Love” is a simple guitar and vocal harmony of love and the same skin. It sounds like the kind of song your dad would listen to, or some classic rock station would play during a slower segment. But Lortz just jumps right into the album, gearing you after a short ending for the rest.

Quick strums of the guitar, deep lyrics with lofty vocals guiding the mood, “The Eagle or the Serpent” hits darker notes that would promote a more ominous album until then at 2:50 the drums enter to enlighten all. The twenty-five seconds of a cappella “ah” really gather the song together for the last notes.

Listed on iTunes as “Skirt,” track four is also known as “You Folded Up My Blanket Like We Were Already Lovers” and starts with a few lines about pissing on the street and getting some on your thigh. The short (2:53) ditty on not touching the girl with long legs and soft skin in bed is a vignette of rural love “a long, long, long, long, long, long, long way from home.” Like a country song that repeats verses.

Not to spoil it, but “Texas Ghost Story” is not about an eerie ghost story like Goosebumps. I was hoping it would be. But it’s another love-lost song, sounding much like “The Eagle or the Serpent.” And if you think you’re in for a haunting ghost story on “California Ghost Story” a couple of tracks later, you’re kind of right. It’s like an adult Halloween song.

It’s odd that the last song would be titled “The Day We Met,” but considering the circular way you could listen to Shape it isn’t so off-beat with the rest of it all. In fact, it’s the softest of tracks, light and flimsy compared to the opening ten songs. As much as they all have their distinct story and their own guitar tabs, people unaccustomed to Leonard Cohen or even Johnny Cash may find Lortz’s new debut weary to sit through entirely. It’s labeled as alternative music. It’s not. It’s sweet without being sugary.