Archer Prewitt Renaissance man? If there was ever a candidate, Archer Prewitt is it. Prewitt is an accomplished illustrator, comic artist, Sof' Boy (published by Drawn and Quarterly), guitarist for The Sea & Cake and formerly The Coctails, and some time drummer for Edith Frost, as well the maker of the Coctails novelty items-remember the cloth action figures? As a solo artist, Prewitt has released two albums and an EP on Carrot Top Records. Three, his first for Thrill Jockey, was written and produced by Prewitt, who plays guitar and sings lead vocals. Archer's all star band returns with a few special guests. Again in place are Mark Greenberg (The Coctails) on bass, Dave Max Crawford (Poi Dog Pondering) on keyboards and brass, Chris Manfrin (Seam) on drums, Steve Goulding (Graham Parker & The Rumor, Poi Dog, Mekons) on drums, and string arranger Paul Mertens (Brian Wilson, Poi Dog) on flutes and saxophone. Three also features guests Matt Clark (Joan Of Arc) on guitar, Ted Cho (Poi Dog) on guitar, Ben Utley on guitar, Noel Kupersmith (Brokeback, Chicago Underground Quartet) on upright bass, and backing vocals by Kelly Hogan and Nora O'Connor. The new album is a thoroughly modern and vibrant release, embracing the sonic feel of classic early 70's pop and British folk.
Inspired by Emmit Rhodes, Roy Harper, The Beatles, The Impressions, and the Bee Gees, Prewitt writes classic pop tunes. Previous albums were densely layered, melancholic and brooding. While all those elements remain in the mix, the majority of Three is upbeat and light-hearted. Prewitt kept the overdubs of strings and horns to a minimum, striving for a leaner classic pop tune feel. Like many a classic pop song love is the predominant theme. "When I Am With You", and "I'm Comin' Over" are propelled by the duet of Prewitt's strong vocals, lean guitar lines and are sweetened by Crawford's keyboards. "Two Can Play" positively shines with the excitement of a new romance. Some of the most ambitious of Prewitt's arrangements are in the songs "Sister Ice", "Over The Line", and "No Defense" with each taking unexpected turns and breaks that are songs within songs. Basic tracks were recorded at Chicago's King Size Studio's on pro-tools. This technology allowed the recording to move to Greenberg's home studio where Archer collaborated heavily with Greenberg and Crawford, fleshing the songs out with overdubs. The home studio allowed the trio room to play with a variety of arrangements without the ticking clock of studio time. The relaxed environment elicited some unconventional touches such as the use of a toy stlylophone through a talk box. Prewitt prefers the organic sounds of real strings and worked again with Paul Mertens, who has worked on arrangements and charted orchestration for Brian Wilson. After strings were added, the record was mixed back at King Size Studios.
Three is his most refined effort to date; the romantic sentiments and lean arrangements of his classic pop tunes should not be mistaken for simplicity. Such assumptions would ignore the serious craftsmanship of his songwriting and performance. It is a credit to the considerable talents of Prewitt (producing, performing and writing) that Three bounces along effortlessly doing the work so you don't have to.