There’s the distinct possibility that Jason Quever has never written a bad song in Papercuts’ decade-long run. With the exception of “John Brown” and that one song on Can’t Go Back that namedropped Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson, he may not have ever written a truly great one either. You won’t find either on his fifth LP, Life Among the Savages, which further means it’s no better or worse than the low-risk, handsomely rewarding albums that came before.
Which is just as well. Papercuts make consistently pleasant folk-rock for consistently pleasant lives. Quever’s quiver of a voice can lend itself to subtly ingratiating melodies (“Still Knocking at the Door,” the title track) but otherwise he dissipates upon contact within low-key arrangements of strummed acoustics, strings, horns and tempos with the urgency of a trip to the farmer’s market. There’s an important semantic distinction to make in the title, though — it does not share a name with Savage Life, the debut from lowbrow Baton Rouge drawl-rapper Webbie, nor does Quever say that he himself is a savage. People who live among the savages are anthropologists, observers. And that gets to the appeal of Papercuts’ leisurely paced and casually orchestrated folk-rock that doesn’t really rock: It’s the perfect for the times when you just want to watch life slowly pass you by.