Water Liars: Starkly Sweet
Song: "Dog Eaten"
Artist: Water Liars
CD: Phantom Limb
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Water Liars' music is a low-key triumph of inspiration over ambition: Phantom Limb, the duo's shamblingly folksy and intermittently rocking debut, was recorded in rural Mississippi over the course of just a few days, without so much as a band name to go on. But singer-guitarist Justin Kinkel-Schuster (of the St. Louis rock group Theodore) and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Bryant have crafted an unassuming sleeper, prone to fits of stark gorgeousness like "Dog Eaten."
Amid the album's rough-around-the-edges folk-rock, "Dog Eaten" stands out for its airy simplicity: The way Kinkel-Schuster's voice rings out, it sounds more suited to a cathedral than a basement, as he sings of bitter loss and a father's betrayal. But for all the world-weariness of his words, there's sweet, soaring gentility to his delivery in "Dog Eaten," in the spirit of kindred (and often similarly bearded) spirits like Horse Feathers, Iron & Wine and The Milk Carton Kids. There's a crowded marketplace for this sort of rustic heartsickness, sure, but it's hard not to succumb to the song's graceful beauty.