And the reunion train keeps chugging along… But I don’t mind when it brings us new music from the likes of Knife in the Water. The Texas outfit formed in 1997 alongside other Austin acts including American Analog Set and …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead — but they had little in common with many of their peers. Knife in the Water opted for a darker, spookier sound that drew from country-western and folk as well as Nick Cave, Flannery O’Connor, and David Lynch.
Blending country-western aesthetics (i.e., lots of gorgeous pedal steel) with lethargic melodies, world-weary harmonies, and twisted murder ballad-style lyrics — imagine a southern gothic version of Low — Knife in the Water carved out a nice little niche for themselves in the late ’90s and early ’00s. (They even made it up to Nebraska for a couple of fantastic concerts.) But after 2003’s Cut the Cord, the group drifted apart and went largely silent.
Which brings us to 2017. First off, the band will reissue their acclaimed 1998 debut album, Plays One Sound and Others, on vinyl. The reissue will be released on February 24 by Sonic Surgery Records. Then, on March 3, Keeled Scales will release Reproduction, Knife in the Water’s first album in 14 years.
Longtime fans won’t be disappointed: Reproduction picks up right where the group’s previous releases left off. Aaron Blount’s voice is as weary as ever, and his lyrics are still cryptic and unsettling. The dulcet tones of Bill McCullough’s pedal steel are still gorgeous. Basically, everything that made Knife in the Water’s music so beguiling over a decade ago has been undimmed by the ensuing years. Or, perhaps more apropos, it’s aged like fine whiskey. You can hear what I mean in the album’s first single, “Call It a Shame.”
I didn’t realize how much I missed McCullough’s pedal steel until it came sweeping in around the 1:20 mark. Stuff like that never gets old, regardless of how much time has passed.