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GREENFIELD can't stop

Paul Dally returns to Tacoma from Brooklyn with more tossed-off gems

Paul Dally’s GREENFIELD project releases compulsively churned-out indie rock gems. Photo credit: Facebook

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Some artists are utterly restless, not quite feeling fulfilled unless they are nearly constantly creating. For some of these artists, creating feels compulsive; their releases dressed up in fervor, monuments to an uncontrollable urge. Robert Pollard springs to mind as such a musician, littering now multiple decades with albums either under his own name, or Guided By Voices, or multitudinous forgotten side projects like Phantom Tollbooth or Lexo and the Leapers, or any number of pointless pseudonyms - even releasing an album entirely made up of onstage banter - resulting in dozens of releases that track the course of an artist who is seemingly incapable of slowing down. Under this kind of schedule, it's basically unavoidable that the quality of the music would vary wildly, but Pollard's voice is always unmistakably present.

In his own, quiet way, Paul Dally has been following a similar trajectory for over a decade. While he almost never actively sells his albums, preferring to throw them up online in the pay-what-you-can model, he has nevertheless churned out tons of material, mostly under the GREENFIELD moniker. The GREENFIELD albums are usually short collections of songs, apparently recorded and released very quickly, eschewing fussy production and simply letting the songwriting shine. What's most amazing about Dally's work ethic is how uniformly great the songs are. I point out the seeming effortlessness of some musicians, but with GREENFIELD there really is the sense of a relaxed, unpretentious prodigy at work.

The music of GREENFIELD is stylistically consistent from album to album, give or take some electronic flourishes that sometimes come in to spruce up Dally's bedroom pop four-track recordings. Dally's voice leans toward the plainspoken vocals of Tom Petty or Lou Reed, a functional element that drives home the point that the lyrics and the driving instrumentation are paramount to prettiness or distracting effects. GREENFIELD's strength lies in the songs' hooks, which arrive early and stick around, tacking themselves to the walls of your ears and holding fast. That he finds these hooks so smoothly and quickly, and that he never lingers in self-congratulation, is part of what makes GREENFIELD such an odd wonder. Consider that Dally has released three albums in the past two months, and that each one is a tossed-off masterpiece, and marvel at bands that might take years to come up with material that's unobtrusively effective.

"Bottle of Red Wine," off of June's Fountain of Youth EP, detours a bit from GREENFIELD's usual chugging energy, languidly drifting along to a simple synth line and a muted drum machine, reminiscent of Phosphorescent's moody, subtly gorgeous blend of balladry, wistful country, and vividly painted soundscapes. At nearly seven minutes, it passes like a mist, fading away before you know any time has passed, in a dreamlike fugue. July's FAZED OUT, which leans into a heavier electronic direction, plays like a fusion of GREENFIELD and Dally's earlier, more flamboyant electro project, Fashion.

Dally emerged on the music scene of Tacoma as part of one of the early classes of the School of the Arts, coming up with the likes of Colin Scott Reynolds and Widowspeak's Molly Hamilton, and similarly finding himself moving to Brooklyn - a city that's lured many of Tacoma's best and brightest. This Saturday finds Dally returning to Tacoma to perform alongside Widowspeak and the Wheelies' Patrick Doherty. It'll be a bill featuring those who never left Tacoma, those who've returned, and those who are coming by for a visit: a neat representation of Tacoma's special power of pushing artists along and beckoning them home. Don't be surprised if GREENFIELD celebrates the occasion by leaving behind another sampling of gems before flying back to New York.

GREENFIELD, w/ Widowspeak, Patrick Doherty, 9 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 3, $5, The Valley, 1206 Puyallup Ave., Tacoma, 253.248.4265

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