There is something about atmospheric, rootsy music that my ear and mind are just drawn to. Idaho's latest and seventh full-length recording, Levitate finds singer/songwriter Jeff Martin playing virtually everything except some drum parts held down by a long time Idaho fan named Alex Kimmel who landed the job by sending a tape to Martin. Martin's music falls somewhere between the rootsiness of Bonny Prince Billy and the mournfulness of Mark Eitzel, striking a balance that is both odd and moving. The opening track "Wondering the Fields" is filled with layers of acoustic guitars, harmonics, angular drumming and sparse piano that combine to form a rocking bit of slo-core.

However, much of Levitate is sparser, making use of quiet acoustic guitars, drum machines, samples, and Martin's classical piano background. The songs generally begin in a nebulous, seemingly ambiguous way, like an orchestra of acoustic rock instruments tuning until slowly a melody or phrase emerges. The music is meditative in this sense, sometimes never progressing beyond a phrase -- as on "Carousel" -- while occasionally the sounds merge into songs like the yearning-filled 90 seconds at the end of "Come Back Home." Idaho's Levitate is less a series a songs than a series of sound experiments conducive to a pensive or melancholy mindset. However, while this music can be beautiful and thoughtful when in the right mood, after multiple listens, the initially compelling ambiguousness of form loses its luster.

A.K. GOLD | A.K. Gold lives in Washington, D.C., where she slaves away for a non-profit organization and constantly compares everything to New York City or Chicago. She's earned her "cred" as a college radio and pre-1960 country music DJ, committed indie label street teamer, sporadic zinemaker/contributor, retired mail-order filler and occasional freelance writer. From time to time, she publishes Anecdotal Evidence, a per zine that will some day be considered for the National Book Award, or possibly not. If you want to buy a copy, or desire to write to her for some other reason, email

this review is/was posted at
and is available here for archival purposes