Audio Mixers: Chris Schlarb; Chris Murphy .
Recording information: Big Ego, Long Beach, CA; Fame Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Global Headquarters, Zwaag, Netherlands; Our Sweet alhambra Home, alhambra, California; Postal Recording, Indianapolis, Indiana.
Photographer: Olivia Hemaratanatorn.
Arranger: Chris Schlarb.
For his third album under the Psychic Temple banner, Chris Schlarb has delivered a set of music that manages to be ambitious, eclectic, and accessible at once. Schlarb's creative instincts leaned toward jazz and experimental music on Psychic Temple's earlier releases, but this time out, elements of folk, country, and soul come to the forefront. The result isn't a complete departure from Schlarb's previous releases, but Psychic Temple III is consistently approachable in a way his previous work was not. Schlarb hasn't dumbed down his music, and the crew of musicians he assembled for these sessions is as gifted and emphatic as any he's worked with. But in his exploration of the music of the American South, Schlarb has brought out the heart and soul in his compositions. The easy but passionate groove of "Road Song," the breezy Americana of "When I Know," and the give and take between the fiddle and the pedal steel on "Getting Home" are all sophisticated in a way that doesn't seem pretentious. And the sinister "Feral Children of the Canyon" and "I Don't Need Nothin'," which feels like a Laurel Canyon homage gone just a bit wrong, both confirm Schlarb isn't obsessed with making nice on this album. The list of players on this album includes some stellar names, including R&B studio legends Spooner Oldham and David Hood, Minutemen co-founder Mike Watt, and Sufjan Stevens collaborator Nedelle Torrisi. The level of skill on display here is impressive, but it's Schlarb's vision as a composer, producer, and arranger that makes this album shine, and Psychic Temple III is further confirmation that he's a major talent with clear vision and a remarkably broad stylistic range. ~ Mark Deming