As anyone who’s ever heard his booming baritone knows, Daughn Gibson has never been one to shy away from melodrama. He embraces it wholeheartedly, to the point where you can picture the opening moments of Me Moan scoring a Maserati-flipping, red light-running, glass-shattering, rail-ramming chase scene — directed by Michael Mann, most likely. And while things slow down considerably by the time the second track kicks in, that voice remains, keeping things country-fried and creepy, as if Gibson decided to audition for David Lynch’s next movie without being asked.
Now, this would all devolve into a kitschy mess if the music itself wasn’t so willfully strange. While the sample-driven sonics of Gibson’s early material remain on his second record, they’re grafted onto actual guitars — delivered in bluesy brush strokes by John Baizley (Baroness) and Jim Elkington (Brokeback) — and layers of live drums, strings, horns, organs and what appears to be a bagpipe. Or a melodica stolen from Clinic. Who knows, honestly. It’s nearly impossible to tell what’s real and what was lifted from rural Pennsylvania’s finest record stores; the aim here is to distort reality, not emulate it. So while certain details jump out upon further listening — the stuttering chorus of “You Don’t Fade,” the finger-picked bridge of “Into the Sea,” the roaring riffs of “Kissin on the Blacktop” — Gibson’s real strength is his storytelling, the way he’s able to reference the open road, a state trooper’s daughter, and other characters borrowed from his country collection without sounding like a total cheeseball. Maybe David Lynch will knock on his door, after all.