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Fans of DeYarmond Edison know that when the band broke up, Justin Vernon went on to create Bon Iver and others formed Megafaun. Yet Chris Porterfield, another member of DeYarmond Eidson, hung back for a while and is now coming forward with a full live band in Field Report. When turning this record on, if you start noticing some early Bon Iver-esque sounds – now you know why. Field Report’s self-titled album was released in September and is a textured, mellow, indie folk listen from beginning to end.
Signed to Partisan Records, the Milwaukee act supported Emmylou Harris and Counting Crows this past summer. Since the release of the debut album, Rolling Stone has called the record a “break-out debut.” Pitchfork also is a champion of Field Report stating that; “Porterfield lifts parables and history lessons whole sale to apply them to his own conflicts.” Field Report has been Porterfield’s first chance to write his own songs. Since the breakout of DeYarmond Edison, Porterfield spend five years carefully writing and revising. The tracks were finally recorded at his former-band mate Vernon’s studio with engineer Beau Sorenson.
“I was talking with Justin, and he said that he had heard through the grapevine that I finally had found the right people to play with,” Porterfield said. “The result is a haunting set of songs that’s crafty, lyrical, and poignant.”
With the success of this album, Porterfield – who’s last name the band’s name is an anagram of – will no longer be lost in he-used-to-play-with-Justin-Vernon headlines. The album is a collection of songs whose lyrics are more short stories or diary entries than anything else. Porterfield’s vocals make every track an emotional and private journey – you can feel the passion and dedication that Porterfield poured into each one. Combined with delicate guitars and electrifying pianos – this album will tug at your heartstrings.
On the opening track “Fergus Falls” the album begins with a quiet plucking of guitar strings. “This is the one/in which I miraculously pulled out of a free fall dive over Fergus Falls, Minnesota/Yeah, this is the one/like 10 years ago that I told you about,” Porterfield sings. You’re instantly transported into Porterfield’s world where he lets your ride shotgun to his memories.
As the album progresses you are shown another piece and another page of Porterfield’s story. On “Incommunicado” he tells his tale of loneliness. “I’ve been incommunicado for going on three days/and the silence sings staccato around my ears and face.”
Wrapping up the album is “Route 18” with a sorrowful Porterfield, “I’ve been no place with the capacity to hoard shame like us/in the warehouse is possessed and sold by the city.” The song tells the story of Porterfield’s youth and past mistakes.
The album as a whole is spacious and dream-like and Porterfield has risen out of Vernon’s shadow with his own powerful voice. NPR related the debut as reminiscent of Paul Simon and “Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen.” Field Report’s debut is very relatable and it certainly won’t be last we hear from Porterfield.