"Found an arrow head in the clay....", a line taken from the closing track on 'Naked Shadows', the debut album from Los Angeles based Song-smith Ryan Fuller's musical creation, Fort King. And when a demo landed at Autumn Ferment HQ last year it indeed caught our attention just like discovering some rare artefact lying in the earth. Drawing comparisons to some of the greats from yesteryears Laurel Canyon folk/country scene like Neil Young and Gram Parsons, to contemporaries such as psyche folksters Espers and fellow Californians Vetiver, this album is a glinting piece of gold from America's west coast alt. Folk scene.
Album opener 'Osceola', with its ghostly whispers and harmonies, finger picked and slide guitar, is a perfect slice of psyche folk/Americana pie. This was the track that influenced Ryan to crown his musical creation Fort King, the track paying homage to the Seminole Warrior who waged war against the United States in the area where Ryan grew up as a child.
The psychedelic tinges continue with tracks like 'House Finch', with its echoes of late 60's pastoral folk, 'Antique Dreams' and instrumental gem 'Tanabata' with their cello arrangements shrouding the scene in an autumnal, melancholic mist similar to sounds from the band Espers.
Tracks like 'Hangin' On', with its ragtime guitar and honky-tonk piano and 'Ricky's Lament' both with their backroom bar drums are prime examples of Fort King having one foot in Harvest era Neil Young and the other in the alt. country rock of Gram Parsons.
Human emotions run riot, especially those of lost love, mistrust and betrayal, in the heartfelt 'To the Moon' which brings the vibe down from ethereal folk highs to a level we can all relate to. Nostalgia breathes a thoughtful sigh with the track 'Noda*Rama', drawing on simple past-times for inspiration. With a dusty, backwoods country road twang in his vocals, Ryan draws the album to a close with the fantastic depth of 'Black Palms' and its theme of rural suicide drenched in emotive harmonies, sprightly guitar and ukulele.
Featuring nine tracks and original album art beautifully drawn by Richard III, 'Naked Shadows' is the second album to be released from Autumn Ferment Records and is truly one that will strike a chord in many a heart.