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Musical Pairings: Beck – Sea Change (paired with vanilla bean ice cream)

The word vanilla is sometimes used to refer to something in its simplest form, to suggest something is bland, and/or something is without frills or kink. But there is nothing bland or simple about the vanilla bean ice cream recipe Kasey is sharing over on eating/sf today. Indeed, the use of quality ingredients such as pure vanilla bean means that this focused recipe offers clean, pure flavor that will leave you cleaning the last bits of ice cream out of the bowl. Similarly, in the realm of Beck’s discography, there can be no question that Sea Change would be Beck’s “vanilla” record. Sure there are flourishes of string arrangements, light keyboards, pedal steel, and the occasional twirping/revving electronic noise presumably brought by producer Nigel Godrich (who produced all of Radiohead’s best records), but the real focus of Sea Change is Beck’s songwriting, voice and frequently an acoustic guitar. And by keeping it simple and focusing on straight-forward song-writing and instrumentation, Beck recorded one of his most critically-acclaimed records to date (his best alongside Odelay anyways).

It has been pretty widely noted that Sea Change was inspired by the end of a long-term relationship. And since the record features sincere, plaintive lyrics, this makes sense. Nonetheless, there is no bitterness or anger, as you might expect on a break-up record. Instead, Sea Change is warm and introspective. It gives the sense that Beck unhappily accepted the end of the relationship, but without placing blame or condescension. Thus, this is an album about nurturing a broken heart instead of wallowing in depression. And unlike his other albums, Sea Change is steeped in American country, British folk, and French Baroque pop, and, as a result, musically Sea Change‘s closest relatives are the albums of Willie Nelson, Nick Drake and Serge Gainsbourg. Beck’s vocal delivery is evocative, weary and emotional befitting the lyrics themselves. The album is full of rewarding moments, but a few personal favorites include the tracks “Paper Tiger,” “Lost Cause,” “It’s All In Your Mind,” “Round the Bend,” and “Almost Dead.” You can purchase a vinyl copy over at Amazon.

Beck – Lost Cause

Head back to eating/sf to read Kasey’s recipe for Vanilla Bean Ice Cream.

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Posted by Matthew Hickey

Matthew is the music editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. He’s addicted to vinyl records, pour over coffee, craft beer, small batch bourbon, and pan roasting pork chops.

  • Anonymous

    favorite beck record, mostly because it's a stunner and partly because it's before i became painfully aware of his belief in xenu. i wish he would have stayed on this track instead of returning to the white boy funk folk, but at least he lived out on this fragile limb long enough to produce such a gorgeous record.

  • Matthew

    You know, listening to Beck's record club sessions, you can tell that musically he still has some of this stuff left in him. Maybe we'll see another Sea Change-esque album or two out of Beck. But don't get me wrong – especially after hearing the acoustic renditions – I really like the stuff he recorded for Modern Guilt. I think he is a brilliant songwriter.

  • Anonymous

    i agree, modern guilt is a strong set and hearing the songs acoustically definitely got me back on the beckwagon…but still, listening to the lyrics i keep wanting to find the hiddem scientology messages…especially in chemtrailsm

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