Bay Area singer/songwriter David Novick opens Your Sister’s Hand with a gentle finger-picked instrumental called “Gate,” and its unadorned acoustic beauty suggests Novick belongs in the American Primitive canon along John Fahey and Jack Rose. But then he pivots toward the kinetic, tape-muffled sound of his self-titled debut LP, which got a wide reissue from Ty Segall’s Drag City-based God? imprint. Before these solo releases, Novick made scrappy, fuzzy garage rock with the band Water Cooler, and while the two albums are markedly quieter than his work with that band, his ear for catchy hooks and the glimmering electric guitars working beneath the surface are hints of his past.
Novick has a talent for spiking barebones tracks with well-placed sonic accents. Off-key horns bring an unsettling air to “Inside the Eye,” and some economically implemented banjo warms “Carry Home the Light.” “Last Moon” could have easily been delivered with the same stripped down treatment as “Gate,” but instead, electric guitar feedback quietly harmonizes with the central acoustic melody. The overall tone here is somewhat somber; it’s easy to describe material like this as “otherworldly” and “distant,” but songs can suddenly become grounded and riveting when he ushers in more volume. Novick’s voice is often muffled by the strings of his guitar, but you can hear him sing about a misty field, a fire extinguishing in the night. Novick’s world is a mysterious but beautiful one. Stay a while.