Smooth delivery: Singing stories at Nature

Richard, Your Postman
at Nature
Friday, May 9

 As my friend Jack said last Friday night, standing in front of the new rock duo Richard, Your Postman, and surrounded by the paintings and photographs of Erin Crowe and Rachel Dealy, "This is the coolest place in town tonight."

The "this" was the art gallery Nature on the Downtown Mall, by far the most eclectic of all of Charlottesville's visual venues. A strong emphasis on the local art scene dominates the gallery's offerings, and more often than not that certain someone you'd totally ask out, if they weren't so damn cool, can be found wining and dining (minus the dining) the evening away inside.

Though the photographs of Dealy and the paintings of Crowe were the principal reasons for the existence of Friday's festivities, my ears had come to check out Richard, Your Postman, the musical entertainment for the night.

The band features singer/songwriter Thomas Kane on guitar and vocals, and multi-instrumentalist Mike Powell picking up the rest of the slack. Both are veterans of the local music scene-­ Kane was in the fairly recently imploded indie-rock group Let's Buy Alaska, while Powell plays drums in the phenomenal quirk-rock group VHS and the Babies, and the seemingly reinvigorated indie group Gulf Coast Army.

The pair played eight songs during their short Nature set, and while Kane stuck to his simple Epiphone electric guitar/voice box setup, Powell rotated between a drum kit, a seemingly cheap-ass synthesizer, maracas, and a guitar. The end result was simple, totally honest, and sometimes heartstring-pulling indie-rock.

Kane credits the storytelling style of '50s rock songs like "Leader of the Pack" as inspiration for the lyrical content of his recent work, saying he wants to go against the current trend in songwriting, straight-ahead discourses on the songwriter's feelings, and instead tell stories.

Recently the duo has been working on recording a song-cycle called Halifax, the story of a boy in Bristol, Tennessee, whose girlfriend returns from school in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and quickly throws him over for another.

The Nature show featured a number of songs from Halifax, and also one called "Parkwood Vale Golf and Tennis Club" from the group's song-cycle in the works, about "having a crush on a lifeguard."

I've heard a recording of this song, and with its synthesizer background and nostalgia on the rampage lyrics, it's as if pure pop joy has been lazered onto CD. The highlight of the show was definitely the up-beat "The Operation," which features such classic lyrical couplets as, "Baby, baby, you are so much like math/And I'm never gonna get you quite right" at the song's breaks, and a story line that switches from a wondering appreciation of what seems to be the perfect woman to a pissed discourse on the sexual tendencies of the same person.

In short, for Richard, Your Postman, the story rules the day. Check them out next time they play. That is all I have to say.