The Last Night

by Evening Man

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    “Nothing is not a joke,” sings Evening Man on his debut album. “No one says quite what they mean.” In The Last Night, we encounter fragmentation, dissolution, and madness. The narrative is skittish; the narrator, unreliable. The formulations seem, at first, familiar. Boy meets girl. Boy leaves home. A stranger comes to a small town. An artist suffers. Boy loves girl. Boy loves girl so much he loses her. Maybe he kills her. Maybe he avenges her death. Either way, boy falls apart.

    But the album resists conclusiveness, or happy endings – any ending at all, really. In the first track, “Telegraph Peak,” the speaker gives us the stuff of his days: agents, students, deadlines. There’s pursuit, though, cat and mouse. “Still it follows me,” he repeats. What is “it”? As we move through the album, the “it” seems to take the shape of depression, infidelity, violence, and more tragicomically, hipsterdom and the American Male. Part of the album’s compelling energy, however, comes from the realization that Evening Man doesn’t have any idea what “it” is either – and he made this album hoping to find out.

    The musical palate is schizophrenic. At first listen, the songs seem to inhabit a straightforward pop prettiness, overlaid with and at times distracted and distorted by blurry guitar. Yet at the very moment when the melody seems to lead us toward catharsis, or satisfaction, we’re thrown off, made uneasy. What is the persistent scraping in the background? Why are lines – near-cliches, really – like “baby, you and I belong together till the end of time" – marred, undercut, undermined, redeemed by percussion? The album’s narrator is a liar, a collagist: we’re made aware of the fragile, fictive nature of events, of the many ways a story as basic as boy meets girl can be reframed to be melancholic, triumphant, or bathetic. Evening Man’s musical influences similarly resist easy identification. Songs such as “29” channel New Wave dance; one song later, we have a straightforward homage to Timbaland. Evening Man isn’t shy about vocal manipulation or exploring the guy-with-a-laptop aesthetic to maximum effect, but songs like “Telegraph Peak” demonstrate restraint and sparseness, and “Birdbrain” offers a melody (in 13/4 time) that rivals any jazz improvisation in its sophistication. In the best possible way, he’s all over the place.

    Composed over the course of a winter in a one-room artists’ cottage on a boarding school campus in a depressed Connecticut mill town, the album wrestles with the pleasures and horrors of escape and solitude. It’s you and me against the world, babe, but who are you? Who am I? Dread and sex cohabit uneasily. “When I look at your face/I see my face…and it’s terror that keeps us together. It’s no miracle,” the speaker tells his beloved, layered over gorgeous, karo-syrup guitars and a club beat. Evening Man’s jazz and poetry training is evident in the urbanity of his songwriting, but he’s not content to leave it at that. His finesse comes mud-caked.

    It’s impossible to say what “last night” Evening Man elegizes. The album’s strongest impulse seems to be toward loss – a moment, a person, an era. Illusions both necessary and un-. What gives this record its satisfaction and its sense of stakes is finally our realization, concurrent with Evening Man’s own realization, that life is always beyond his control or understanding. “Don’t let me be a station on your restless radio,” he sings, finally pleading, ceding power.
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credits

released March 31, 2011

Written and played by Paul Erik Lipp, except:
Vocals on "Entremise" and "Your Restless Radio": Michelle Chan Brown
Drums on "Your Restless Radio": Jordan Lipp
"Surgery (In an Emergency)": Lyrics by Michelle Chan Brown and Paul Erik Lipp
Cover art by Jane O'Neill
Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered by Paul Erik Lipp
Recorded at the Artists' Cottage, Pomfret School, Pomfret, CT
All tracks published by Restless Radio Music (ASCAP)

"Every inch of Evening Man’s debut swells with beauty...Lipp populates the nine tracks on The Last Night with so many electro-pop elements that it is damn-near impossible not to be sucked into his vortex of rhythmic storytelling...Listen to 'Birdbrain' in its entirety. Then listen again. It’s hard to believe it’s one man, one song. Just incredible." -The Wounded Jukebox

"...perhaps some of the most sophisticated electronic music around...The Last Night was not an album I felt comfortable writing about after my first time listening. I still don’t feel comfortable writing about it. It’s such a personal, heavy album that I think all of us can connect with, to describe the album feels more like writing a journal entry than an album review." -Tympanogram (Rich Pulvino)

"A sense of danger and anxiety pervades the entire album, even as you find yourself dancing along to it’s infectious rhythms and hooks. As Lipp sings about illusions and daily routines, his narratorial voice flickers between darkly comic and simply dark. The album itself likewise resists any sort of catharsis or conclusion at its end...it’s tough to care how you found something when that something is as amazing as Evening Man." -Bears Eat Beats (Dylan Zierk)

"After listening to this album, I felt as if I had just finished reading a well-crafted novel. The music and lyrics tell the best kind of story—one that ends with questions and ideas that you can’t get out of your head. It isn’t just boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl. It’s a complex web of storylines and themes commenting on loneliness, madness, and escape...to hear Evening Man’s debut album The Last Night is to love it." -In Your Speakers (Rosalee Pipitone)

"What started to happen and fast became habit for me was to listen and to develop questions about life, love, and happiness. The album started to transcend the music for me. The music started to become intertwined with existential questions." -1146 Miles

"Its not hard to become wrapped up in the mystique – I’ve listened through the album at least 7 times now trying to make sense of it all. The schizotypy manifested by every aspect of the music is halfway between a potpourri and a decoupage, and piecing it together is every bit as difficult and interesting as fully understanding a James Joyce novel." -Malleus & Incus (John Urbanik)

"from the late-night dance club reminiscent ‘entremise’, which had me in a bit of a daydream, to the closing electronic-ballad ‘surgery (in an emergency)’...i’m hooked, and i think it’s quite fair to say that this man has some real talent." -Vocal Nerd Rodeo

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Evening Man Washington, D.C.

Evening Man is the moniker of singer/songwriter, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Paul Erik Lipp. He currently lives and works in Washington, DC.

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