Even if you’re not familiar with Andy Stack’s name, there’s a chance you’ll know his work. He has spent the last decade as one half of indie-folk duo Wye Oak, toured with members of The National, performed with Lambchop and Shearwater and more, and composed music for film and television. If you’re still none the wiser, then Release the Dogs, his first solo effort, is a handy introduction.
The result of a period of isolation following a relationship break-up (Stack retreated to the Texas wilds to bring these songs to life) …Dogs showcases its composer’s myriad talents. He is a gifted multi-instrumentalist—playing everything from guitar to saxophone to synths here—with a delicate-but-warm voice and natural knack for a melody. And, while some of the record is, naturally, sparse, most of the tracks are full of detail, much more than the work of just one person.
Opener “Alight” slowly enhances a glitchy drum beat with bubbling bass and sandy synth sounds, “Dogs” makes a wonderful, swirling, almost-optimistic song out of Stack’s woes, while the busy and brilliant “Salt Mine” might well have been made in a laboratory, specifically scientifically-enhanced to be played only through headphones. One listen might not be enough. This is a sepia-toned record that could slip past unnoticed if allowed. Given space and time though, it’s plenty equipped to make a mark.
There’s something to that cover art, then. Because, while Release the Dogs might seem insignificant at first glance, eventually the best bits will creepy-crawl inside the corners of your brain and stick. For fans of The Postal Service, The Album Leaf, and quiet overthinking on Sunday evening.