As far as album titles go, Love isn’t terribly original. But for the heartfelt and straightforward music Damon McMahon has been making as Amen Dunes for the past half decade, it feels appropriate. McMahon’s commitment to leave his music as honest and uncluttered as possible is one of his great strengths, and with Love, his third full-length, he opens his music up to more fresh air than ever before.
Compared to the fuzzyheaded woodsiness of his last effort, Through Donkey Jaw, Love feels especially crisp and spiritually rich, as if it were made with open spaces in mind. Part of this can be attributed to the unhurried, pastoral nature of these songs (the elegant, hymn-like “Spirits Are Parted”), where salvation feels only a few trailposts away. But it’s also thanks to how uninhibited it all sounds too, with members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Iceage frontman Elias Bender-Ronnenfelt all lending a hand. Not too much has changed, but incorporating shades of singer-songwriter earnestness (“I Know Myself”) and mystic earthiness (“Lilac in Hand”) all confirm that, with music this simple and nourishing, even the subtlest tweaks can make all the difference.