Following the untimely break-up of The Broken West, frontman Ross Flournoy was a bit lost. Add a touch of writer’s block, and a betting man could’ve called the songwriter’s condition hopeless.
Spurred by ex-Sleater Kinney guitarist Carrie Brownstein’s Monitor This column on NPR, in which she challenged songwriters to piece together a composition over the weekend and submit it, Flournoy finally put a pen to paper, and the songs came pouring out. Dubbed Apex Manor, Flournoy has released The Year of Magical Drinking, a collection of indie-pop charmers that illustrate a songwriter at the top of his game.
Flournoy’s clear and concise nuance spills unhampered from the album-opening “Southern Decline.” “It’s easier to speak with a swollen tongue than it is to try to undo all things I’ve done,” he sings. “But I do, I talk like a fool.” This emotive, often self-deprecating song-set jangles (“I Know These Waters Well”), throbs (“My My Mind”), and broods (“Holy Roller”), and over the course of the album’s 10 compositions, Flournoy proves that his creative flow has returned.
The Year of Magical Drinking introduces a new phase in the career of Ross Flournoy, one that is galvanized in the set-closing “Coming To” with its lush arrangement and its love-sick catalyst whose plight can just as easily apply to the songwriter’s return to form. “Oh yeah, I’m beginning to see the light, now that I’m coming to,” Flournoy sings. And with The Year of Magical Drinking, he has seen the light, felt its warmth, and bottled it for you and me.
The Year of Magical Drinking is out now on Merge Records.