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An outstanding release! "In the four years since Audika began releasing the much-loved but less easy to find music of composer and producer Arthur Russell, his popularity has soared. Particularly striking a chord with a younger generation of musicians, many have enthusiastically championed his progressive and influential sound. In 2007, Jens Lekman arranged the brief but tenderly constructed EP, Four Songs By Arthur Russell, which featured imaginative covers by Joel Gibb, Vera November, and Taken By Trees. Meanwhile, artists including Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear (who digitally restored and edited Love Is Overtaking Me), St. Vincent, and DFA's James Murphy have effused about their admiration for his distinctively free-flowing, compelling arrangements.
As Matt Wolf's perceptive, beautifully shot film, Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell, reveals, Arthur Russell quite literally had hundreds of tape reels documenting the material he recorded, from his first compositions in the early 1970s to the very last made in 1991, a year before he died of AIDS in New York City. Love Is Overtaking Me, a compilation of more as-yet-unavailable material created during those two decades, proves to be a valuable insight into Russell's extensive body of work. Most of the 21 tracks on this album have a more traditional singer/songwriter structure than the avant-garde cello compositions and kinetic, jazz-influenced disco for which he has also come to be known. Tracks such as "Close My Eyes", "Oh Fernanda Why", and the traditional cowboy song "Goodbye Old Paint", are strong examples of his connection to folk music and are largely developed on acoustic guitar. A common thread always runs throughout Russell's work and is well represented here: his moving, gentle voice-- and a knack for storytelling that could rival Bob Dylan. On this album, these lovely lyrical details are especially prevalent on songs like "Habit of You" and "Big Moon", where Russell's sensitivity and sense of humor gracefully anchor the music.
Many other great artists at a similar level of Russell's prolificacy have more than enough skeletons in their musical closet, plenty of which would only appeal to the most die-hard of fans. The tracks currently being dusted off in his archive, however, have so far been dependably strong, despite being mostly unfinished tracks of incredible musical variety. Russell himself was rarely satisfied with his results, preferring to move on to the next song rather than dotting the i's and crossing the t's. His creativity, it seems, was pretty much constant. He would work every day without fail, and the songs on Love Is Overtaking Me are a deftly selected microcosm of this brilliant musical world. The compilation features all elements of Russell's margin blurring, from the warm pop of "Planted a Thought" and the Modern Lovers-influenced delivery of "Time Away" to the stark, cello driven song, "Eli", where the vocals and strings seemed to be in a tonal battle, although this brings an urgency to the lyrics (about a lonesome, mistreated dog) and allows them to resonate in the best possible way.
At the time of his death, Russell's music had reached only a limited audience outside of his devoted, often high profile connections (he collaborated with Philip Glass, David Byrne, and Allen Ginsberg, among others). Yet his distinctive music has the rare resilience to keep growing, connecting to more and more people because of its extraordinarily contemporary, even timeless, quality. While he was alive, Russell and his relatively small group of listeners were convinced that his music should reach more ears; that it should be able to stretch across the same boundaries that his compositions navigated so elegantly. Now, through the care of Audika and the genuine love of fellow musicians and fans that have recognized his prodigious talent, Russell is finally getting the acknowledgment his honest, powerful, and most remarkable music deserves. (PitchforkMedia)