|The Crane Wife
There has always been something a little suspect about the Decemberists' Colin Meloy, since a young guy out of Portland, Oregon isn't supposed to recall English folk-rockers from the 1970s (particularly, Al Stewart and Dave Cousins). But here, he takes his biggest leap as a writer, using great, accessible melodies to bring out the emotional truths in his obscure tales. Then there's the sound. As the band gives Meloy all the textures he needs, from full-blooded acoustic to full-bore prog, the sparkling production proves a record doesn't have to be "retro" to be warm and inviting.