"Too Much Time"
"Sunken Union Boat"
John Vanderslice is a songwriter's songwriter. His music, a beautifully finessed mix of acoustic instruments, analog drum machines and digital textures, is invariably thoughtful, carefully crafted and affecting. He's prolific, too: Vanderslice has released an album nearly every year this decade, and his latest (Romanian Names) is his most inspired so far.
Since the release of his 2000 debut, Mass Suicide Occult Figurines, Vanderslice has built a loyal following by consistently producing work that's smarter and a little more adventurous than most pop music. More importantly, his songs possess a warmth that's intimate and inviting, without seeming overly earnest or artificial. You just feel better when you listen.
So it wasn't surprising, when I finally met Vanderslice before this Tiny Desk Concert, to find him incredibly affable and utterly without pretension. He treated us to stripped-down, acoustic versions of four songs from Romanian Names, followed by plenty of hugs — that's right, hugs — for the NPR Music staff.