This is the tenth album from Abouretum, who are a group from Baltimore started by Dave Heumann in 2002. Between the release of “Song Of The Rose” in 2017 and this album in 2020, Brian Carey (drums) and Matt Pierce (keyboards and woodwind) ran a bar, Corey Allender (bass guitar) worked in a library and Dave Heumann (vocals and guitars) sold Chinese tea and taught guitar and Tai Chi. Presumably, he didn;t teach these simultaneously although it might have been interesting to watch. David Bergander rejoined the group after an absence of 15 years to play drums which means that the band now has two drummers.
There are 8 songs on the album and 7 of them are about 5 minutes long with a gentle rock sound not a million miles away from “Marquee Moon” by Television or “Before The Sunset” by Rain Parade. The exception is the title song, “Let It All In” which is a genuinely exciting rock song which started as an instrumental improvisation which they played in the studio, on and off for many months, before Dave Heumann thought of some lyrics about letting go of your inhibitions in spite of the uncertainty all around you. There is a keyboard solo which is similar in sound to “Sister Ray” by The Velvet Underground and later, there’s a very exciting guitar solo which is unbelievably precise; the sort of guitar solo that David Rawlings would play if he ever picked up an electric guitar. This song is a loud uptempo anomaly on this sweet sounding rock album; it’s odd to name the album after an atypical track. I like it nonetheless.
The mood of the rest of the album is of a laid back rock groove. Dave Heumann has said that it isn’t a conscious aim of the band to create calm music, “that’s just the way it comes out”. He has said that he wants people to move when listening to the album but if the movement is just “a gentle swaying“, that’s fine.
Track 4 is called “Headwaters II” and the lyrics were inspired by Dave Heumann’s research into the sources of the Mississippi and Colorado rivers. He read a book about the Amazon and mixed this narrative with ideas of time, memory and creation to write a slow song with unusual drumming, weird lyrics and a great guitar solo in the two minute coda.
The last song on the album is “High Water Song” which has a New Orleans feel to it. For the first time, they include a horn arrangement towards the end on which 16 separate tracks are included: saxophones, trumpets and flugelhorns.
I once gave a friend of mine a compilation CD which he described as eleven songs by American bands nobody has heard of. I don’t think he liked it much and probably never played it. From my perspective, it’s lucky that magazines such as MOJO and UNCUT provide a portal into the land of 75 Dollar Bill, Bonny Light Horsemen, Clem Snide, Field Report, Lou Ford, Old 97’s, Patty Hurst Shifter, Shearwater, Waxahatchee and Arbouretum because they all make interesting, imaginative, progressive music.