Few things outside of puberty or the oratory of George W. Bush are as awkward as a waltz. Like an amputated square dance, the waltz's three-count cadence and stiff formality represent the ultimate triumph of social order over the organic rhythms of the human body. It's no wonder, then, that Denver songwriter Patrick Porter named his new release Maybe Waltz: The disc is a series of tentative, unsure steps that try to maintain some sense of poise and equilibrium between external social pressures and the inner horsepower of the heart. What he's actually singing about here is as inconsequential as it is indecipherable; it's the foggy ether he irrigates his songs with that floats much more psychic weight than words ever could. Porter's acoustic-guitar-plus-lonely-voice blueprint follows the formula of the folk confessional, but he seems as desperate to pour out his soul as he is to lock it up and swallow the key. On "Cordwood and Spark," sentiment is sloshed in thick-tongued mumbles and narcoleptic strumming straight out of Nick Drake's Pink Moon or J Mascis's Martin + Me. Later, the aptly dubbed "Subtle Way" plunks and pops in a billow of hushed, lo-fi mystery. There are a few vague phrases that coalesce here and there within a mist of tape hiss and whispers -- "I didn't mean to bring you down," "I heard everything," "Easy to be upset" -- but trying to glean any clear meaning out of them is misguided. Instead, step back, let Maybe Waltz take you by the hand and dance its last dance as it stumbles, frozen and mortified by its quiet grace, into sublimity.
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