Ancient History’s Donald Ducote recalls the downbeat and sombre songwriting of American Music Club and Red House Painter on ‘Tracks’
hen an artist counts Elliott Smith’s Either/Other, Jeff Buckley’s Grace, Belle & Sebastian’s If You’re Feeling Sinister and Neutral Milk Hotel’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea among the records to have influenced their songwriting, it goes without saying that the attention is drawn. Ancient History is the project of former My Sister In 1994 frontman Donald Ducote but sees him moving away from the indie-rock of My Sister In 1994 and venturing into the more personal realm inhabited by Smith, Buckley, NMH and Belle & Sebastian.
However, the artists who immediately spring to mind as the frosty melodies of Tracks opener Four Leafed catch the ear like a winter breeze are Mark Eitzel’s American Music Club and Mark Kozelak’s Red House Painters. It’s not just in the sombre tone of the music but the gentle, stoic, voice that Ducote shares with both Eitzel and Kozelak. It’s a voice to draw the eyelids together, as you creep ever closer to the comfort of your duvet.
The sombre mood is felt throughout the album, in songs such as the raw Subway Dream – which wouldn’t sound out of place on Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ fraught The Boatman’s Call – and the tender At The Rose Hotel, which brings to mind Jeff Buckley’s excellent debut. Tracks‘ gloom is further heightened by the addition of Radiohead’s downbeat atmospherics.
Given the celebrated status of the artists to inspire Tracks, it’s a testament to the strength of Ducote’s songwriting that he is able to retain your attention throughout. If Ancient History hope to reach the grand levels of their forebears, then a little more variation would draw them closer; for now though, this is a fine collection by a very promising songwriter.
Verdict: Draws the attention and keeps its hold