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These United States: A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden


These United States: A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden

Label:United Interests
Format:Album
Media:CD
Release Date:2008
Genre:Rock/Pop

By Raymond Cummings | Posted 5/14/2008

These United States singer/guitarist Jesse Elliott must be fatally enamored of some bygone, romanticized American mysticism. A Picture of the Three of Us at the Gate to the Garden of Eden, his band's fanciful debut, plays like some rogue-on-the-cusp-of-adulthood's purplish, Arlo Guthrie-meets-Postal Service interior monologue.

The ambling vibraphone blues of "Kings and Aces" find a drifter in bed with a girl who lays her unsavory past on him; he's stuck between skipping town alone and taking her away with him. A plodding, patty-cake rumble, "So High so Low so Wide so Long" lays out a chat between our protagonist and some immortal avatar. Elliott's vocals here are especially tender and tentative, as though he's talking to himself under his breath, vowing to take over the world: "My gold is gone, but I've got receipts/ And I am going to read them from the mountaintop, tall tales of busted bandits, cobweb corner shops." Trumpets blaring like Gatling guns, "The Business" blusters forward with Babbitt-like bravado and a jamboree swing, as its gainfully employed hero boasts to his beloved: "I got a glorified leather lunch box/ Got an old set of shoes but a new pair of socks/ I got a tie barely matches my shoes, but at the end of the day I'm coming over to see you."

Whether Picture is a perspective-consolidated, first-person Winesburg, Ohio or a digital-age blues-folk touchstone is irrelevant--it's as lovingly crafted and comfortable as an old, worn pair of shoes.

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