Water Liars: Starkly Sweet On an album of rough-around-the-edges folk-rock, "Dog Eaten" stands out for its airy simplicity.


Water Liars: Starkly Sweet

Phanton Limb

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On an album of rough-around-the-edges folk-rock, Water Liars' "Dog Eaten" stands out for its airy simplicity. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Monday's Pick

Song: "Dog Eaten"

Artist: Water Liars

CD: Phantom Limb

Genre: Folk

Every day this week, Song of the Day will showcase a track by an artist playing the South by Southwest music festival. For NPR Music's full coverage of SXSW — complete with full-length concerts, studio sessions, blogs, Twitter feeds, video and more — visit npr.org/sxsw. And don't miss our continuous 100-song playlist, The Austin 100, which features much more of the best music the festival has to offer.

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.