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Quiet beauty haunts long after songs end

Local Band: John Weinland
by: Courtesy of John Weinland, Demersville is a ghost town near Kalispell, Mont. – some of the ghosts might show up on John Weinland’s new album of the same name.

Ghosts roam freely on 'Demersville,' the long-awaited album by local band John Weinland. Most of the time they appear as the specter of expired relationships, although the record's quiet jewel, 'Other Folks,' is actually a gentle and tender missive to a departed lover.

These are songs that are truly haunting in their beauty - full of melancholy nostalgia and delivered in lovely, sepia-toned folk-pop snapshots.

Singer Adam Shearer has the kind of breathy vocals and songwriting skills that have earned comparisons to Neil Young, Elliott Smith and Nick Drake. Those names get bandied about a lot, but in this case the name-checking is merited. 'Demersville' is a rare bird - an album that announces itself as a classic from beginning to end.

Piano, strings, pedal steel, dobro, mouth harp and some very lovely harmonies give the songs a dusty, dusky atmosphere that accentuates the bittersweet feeling of losing something that's been dear.

'Just because some things end, it doesn't mean you're not the world to me. Will I know you again?' Shearer sings in 'The Loaded Gun.' In 'Other Folks,' he reassures his departed that 'I still don't feel alone. I can feel your breath on the back of my neck, like a whisper from home.'

Like the letters and photographs from former friends and lovers that litter the songs, Shearer seems to want to reassure us that those people never truly disappear. While their presence may be transitory, the effects are long-lasting - and so are the songs on 'Demersville.'

- Barbara Mitchell

9 p.m. FRIDAY, July 14, Mississippi Studios, 3939 N. Mississippi Ave., 503-288-3895, $10