Marlon Rabenreither was a painter before he succumbed to life as a musician, first as a dream-pop psycher and now as a full-on woozy Americana singer-songwriter. When Rabenreither was initially trying his Gold Star moniker and country songwriting on for size he got a gig opening for Lucinda Williams. Williams encouraged him to continue writing country songs, so we’ve got her to thank for Gold Star’s spacious, gritty full-length debut Dark Days. The album is a velvety, mournful bit of country twang that chugs by on twisted-guitar heartbreak and ghostly organs. Take “Sadie,” a simmering struggle with unrequited love, or “Get Down My Devil,” a bluesy, unsuccessful attempt to exorcise the past; these are songs that don’t offer resolution or happy endings, but revel in the struggle and the in-between moments of realization and conflict. Rabenreither may have been born in Vienna, Austria, but he summons country wraiths without batting an eye — Americana is a global export now.
“Learning The Blues” is the most traditional song on the record, and you can see his foundation as a visual artist in the video for it, which we’re premiering today. Fuzzy and bleary images of drums, organ, guitar, and tambourine appear so out of focus that they bleed into abstraction, learned shapes that fade into the ether as the song’s bitter undercurrent swells. Most things in life are learned, sure. We learn how to feed and dress ourselves, we learn how to laugh and love and mourn. This song wails against loss, specifically, poking and prodding at the weird inevitability of grief. “I’m overcoming a sickness/ I was overwhelmed by grief/ I wasn’t given a warning/ It knocked me all to my knees,” he first sings, then later screams at a frenzied fever pitch. Yet it’s a graceful implosion — a weary, weathered reflection on loss and acceptance. Lucinda would be proud.
Here’s the Gold Star album artwork:
And the full Dark Days tracklist:
01 “At The Dawn”
03 “Learning The Blues”
04 “Back To Me”
06 “Dark Days”
07 “The Line”
09 “Get Down My Devil”
10 “With You”
11 “It’s All Over Now”
Dark Days is out 6/2 via Starfish Records. Pre-order it here.