"I've done things/That'd make my mother cry/If she knew"
So begins the first track of Alexander Foote's Hope Diamonds. It is a sentiment of remarkable honesty, a confession better suited to a private conversation among friends than to an opening track of an artist's debut EP--particularly one with a title bearing the word "Hope." It is a contradiction, and as repeated listenings reveal, these songs are rife with them.
From the outlaw narrator of "Ghosts in the Graveyard" (an homage to Sea Change-era Beck with its glistening strings and reverb-drenched lap steel) hiding in the forest in what must certainly be his last hour as a free man; to Foote's brash proclamation in "Revolving Door" (Elliott Smith with Mariachi horns) that he's "not afraid of anything," adding, "but present company" almost as an afterthought; all the way to "Half-A-Mind"'s threat to "go away/and not come back this time; the contradictions abound.
Foote revels in contradiction. He sets the somber lyric of "Half-A-Mind" against a comparatively peppy tune, with fingerpicked nylon string guitar mixing with undeniably joyous celeste and farfisa organ. The driving drums and infectious handclaps in "Revolving Door" seem more at home in a Latin dance number from a 1960's MGM musical than a song about frustration and regret. "Ghosts in the Graveyard", a song about a man on the run from the law is quite slow--again, the opposite of what one might expect.
Alexander Foote is adept at toeing the line between what is expected and what isn't. Hope Diamonds is the work of an single visionary--albeit one that wears many hats. In addition to writing, producing, and arranging the album, Foote performs nearly every part on the record himself. It was recorded mostly in his bedroom in Brooklyn, over the course of the last year. Hope Diamonds is Alexander Foote's first release.
"Best new totally unknown find of the week. If Elliot Smith got to have Beirut make arrangements for him, here is the glorious result."