Personnel: Kyle Field (vocals, guitar, keyboards); Lee Baggett (vocals, guitar); Zeb Zaitz (vocals, piano, drums); Tommy McDonald (vocals, keyboards); Natalie Alyse, Jeremiah Conte, Anthony Zaitz (vocals); Paul Dutton (guitar); Joel Tolbert (lap steel guitar); Fletcher Tucker (banjo, dulcimer, keyboards).
Audio Mixers: Kyle Mullarky; Kyle Field.
Recording information: Highway 41, Morro Bay (2014).
Kyle Field's first outing for Woods frontman Jeremy Earl's Woodsist label, Explains retains all of the idiosyncrasies of previous Little Wings outings (shambolic, Skip Spence-inspired folk-rock, funny/profound/sad/nonsensical stream of consciousness lyrics, and a vocal style that's as compelling as it is totally off-putting), but it also stands as the Alabama-bred, California-based pop outlier's most polished offering to date.
Field is still the shifty guy at the bus stop who talks out loud and writes cryptic notes to himself in the margins of an old dog-eared library book, but listeners who are already acclimated to his peculiar brand of pitch-be-damned North-Cali slacker poetry will know that it's best just to go along for the ride and leave the dowsing rod at home, because any attempt to parse his particular vernacular will just yield further bemusement -- imagine an amalgam of Wesley Willis, Bonnie "Prince" Billy and a really high M. Ward.
Sonically, Explains is breezy, effortless, and warm as a Pacific Ocean sunset, and its laid-back vibe helps tame some of Field's more manic, pop culture-laden diatribes like "Light Brang" and "Where." That chill vibe is bolstered by intermittent strokes of pedal steel, dulcimer, banjo, brushed drums, and parlor piano, all of which pair nicely with Field's laconic delivery and often moving observations about everything from wanderlust and heartache to Dunkin' Donuts and HBO's Entourage. ~ James Christopher Monger