Two years back Tildon Krautz came into my life via an intricate, delightful and slightly mysterious package that contained their second album (which I reviewed here ). Recently a similar package arrived, another homemade delight with drawings that recall Edwards Lear and Gorey and within, Tildon Krautz No. 3 AKA A Love (although a delicate scribble on the sleeve records that main man Greg Weiss wanted to call the album Nonszalancki, a Polish word that roughly translates as flippant or nonchalant). Flippant they may be (see the brief song they call Extracts which is basically singer Gabi Swiatkowska and Weiss singing karaoke style over an MOR arrangement of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You which bizarrely pops up halfway through the album), but at heart they deliver yet again a wonderfully spare and left field take on old time roots music with hints of chanson and music hall thrown in.
While initially a listener might think that there’s a naiveté abound here, simple songs with catchy choruses, closer listening reveals a smart wit within the words while the playing is deceptively simple, a ramshackle tumble that takes talent to sound this good. This is evident from the opening Benny Song, a delightful ditty that tiptoes along with a mandolin carrying the main tune as Weiss and Swiatkowska squabble wonderfully like Sonny & Cher sitting on an Appalachian back porch. This back porch picking continues on the fine Life Apart and on Weiss’ excellent Fish, a song that brings to mind John Sebastian in a sunny mood while Disney Song plinks and plunks along as the pair sing surreally about a cat and a discombobulated mouse.
With Marco Hertz and Noel Migliasso on hand on various stringed instruments along with Jim Rowe adding drums on occasion there’s a bit more heft to several of the songs. Disco Song won’t be worrying the Bee Gees but its up tempo banjo beat drives yet another squabbling couples song, Weiss and Swiatkowska sounding quite impassioned here. La Chanson Grave adds a string section for a sombre showcase from Swiatkowska, her fluttering voice sounding vulnerable against the woody timbre of the cello and viola. Weiss delves into darker areas on Longer Than 29, a pensive song that recalls the work of poet Robert Frost and the mournful meanderings of Will Oldham, a trick he repeats and surpasses on the closing song Letter To Dango. A brooding missive that opens with a portentous swell of strings it’s an existentialist folk song that finally lands on the side of human kindness.
Not your everyday cup of tea perhaps but Tildon Krautz are simply sublime and deserve wider hearing.