there's really no mystery to it: one band often leads us to discover another one (and so forth). one of the most pleasant examples of this phenomenon was when nashville's lambchop arrived on the scene, introduced by vic chesnutt's highly commendable testimonial. this time, our attention turns towards portland: last year, there was a most striking encounter with m. ward ("duet for guitars #2", a simple folk record that unveiled treasures of melodies and proved to be essential). among the collaborators was multi-instrumentalist adam selzer. norfolk & western is selzer's own musical project, with the help of matt ward and his on-tour bassist, tony moreno.
just like "duet...", "centralia" requires at least a dozen listens before fully revealing itself. it may just be because it consists of tracks which at first seem independent from one another, then end up fitting together perfectly. (the numerous changes in musicians and instruments -- guitars, dulcimer, lap steel, cello, piano, bass, drums, xylophone, harmonica -- could provide an explanation for that initial feeling of incoherence between the songs.)
in short, "centralia" is a marvelous piece of quiet and elaborate folk music, an album that reveals a great deal of jewels (especially the very soft "settle in," the repetitive title track, and above all the fascinating "her fond creation true").