Silliness runs rampant on Dennis Driscoll’s third LP, titled Voices in the Fog. He hails from Illwaco, Wash., though, to do some regional typecasting, most of his songwriting leans more toward the whimsical side of Athens, Ga. pop. The opening, carefully plucked notes of “Sarah Jane, Pt. II” carry a strong resemblance to those of “Bleeker Street,” while the vocals waver in and out of key and follow a charming childish ode to a young lady friend. While it may be easy to reminisce about the last great Of Montreal songs after slipping Dennis Driscoll into the player, Voices in the Fog is deeply sad-sounding at times, taking full advantage of minor chords and curious accompaniment.
“Telepathic Birdcalls” features a duet with Olympia’s Mirah and a ghostly track that trails alongside the vocals in the song’s backdrop. The songs primarily consist of guitar and Driscoll’s childlike vocals, but the occasional stringed instrument appears and adds color to an otherwise meandering tale, such as in “Waitress and Sailor.” This “ballad to nothing in particular” calls to mind the image of a second grader who’s been asked to present homework in front of the class but would much rather ramble on about a sailor and a fisherman before returning to his seat. “Drive-In” is an adversely personal post-breakup note to a former love, a gentle reflection of innocent-sounding relations that unfortunately went awry. Directly following “Drive-In,” Driscoll delves right back into absolute nonsense so nonsensical that even Raffi would turn his nose up at it.
The personal and serious undertones on the seventeen-song Voices in the Fog are always there, but sometimes are just too muddled by silly selections about roller coasters and waitresses. Very interesting guitar arrangements and off-kilter accompaniment break up otherwise monotonous songs. Dennis Driscoll might be better off sticking to how he really feels, rather than filtering his work through a Dr. Seuss kaleidoscope.