THE TITLE TRACK OF acid-folk coelacanth Ed Askew’s forthcoming album on Tin Angel is one of those songs that just gets you. Kind of jaunty yet sorta melancholy, seemingly shambolic yet endlessly resonant, it’s like a sing-song around the piano in a bar you stumbled into in a dream. Hunched over the keys, check the tremulous, world-worn old guy with a twinkle in his eye (that’s Askew) – a touch of Randy Newman through an eccentric Daniel Johnston filter – and blow me if the young woman on tinkling bvs isn’t MOJO-approved US indie siren Sharon Van Etten. Over it all busks Tyler Evans’ banjo, picking up the pieces of what turns out to be an irresistible melody.
Connecticut painter/pedagogue Askew’s 1968 debut album, Ask The Unicorn (on ESP – Fontana in the UK) is one of the lost treats of American underground folk, a dark, chilly and dislocated collection that still sounds totally out of time, with the late-’60s model Askew coming on like a spooked-out Rodriguez. But his career as a singer-songwriter was stillborn, and his second album, Little Eyes, sat in the vaults for nearly 40 years, before being released by De Stijl in 2005.
Since then, Askew’s been on a comeback trail of sorts, with the excellent Rainy Day Song emerging on Spinning Gold Records in 2008 and Imperfiction on Drag City in 2011, while making available a number of self-releases. “Stolen glances, forgiven memories and moments of joy,” plus cameos by Van Etten and Marc Ribot, are promised on September’s For The World album. He tours the UK in October.
And here he is, doing his thing…