Warn Defever

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We’ve heard Livonia’s Warren "Warn" Defever’s words and music, and we’ve witnessed the many accolades and international attention that his main focus, His Name Is Alive, has received, yet we’ve never really heard his voice – until recently. Taking an Anton Fier approach to his craft, he’s embraced the age-old adage of "better seen than heard" since the late-’80s inception of the group.

On Defever’s most recent two records, however, his voice has come out of the closet, so to speak. With Defever’s solo debut, I Want You to Live 100 Years, the listener found a self-consciousness that almost belied the concept of a solo record by nearly disguising his music (yes, and voice) underneath pseudo-static. This latest, eponymous, release on his own Time Stereo label, however, finds a no-holds-barred artist in all his sparse glory.

As if possessed by the spirit of Will Oldham (Palace), the recording primarily features poorly recorded guitars and out-of-tune vocals. But if listeners know anything about the intricacies Defever places into the music of HNIA, then they would also know that this is not due to a lack of production skill. These purposeful errors – which also include "accidental" song cut-offs and "unintentional" feedback – are no mistake whatsoever, and reveal more (fully) yet another aspect of the artist – his prankster capabilities.

More than giving evidence of a previously hinted at sense of humor, though, Defever seems on a mission to more fully expose himself altogether. With a revisiting of "Are We Still Married" – from His Name Is Alive’s Home is in Your Head recording – the song becomes more affected through his own singing and less abstract than the original. The meaning of the song – once lost through an array of production tricks – is now more clearly seen.

Then, lest we forget that his talent base is much more far-ranging than a man and his guitar in a room, the inclusion of a few talented friends aids in a fuller sound on songs such as "My Revenge."

Admittedly, we don’t really need solo excursions from Defever to prove his innate talent as a producer (or to attempt to fool us out of it). Warn Defever actually raises more questions than solutions. Why has he spent so many years hiding behind a mixed-sound collage, in spite of the various changes his music has undergone? What is clear is that, be it a newfound confidence, a need for change or a lack of something to keep him occupied on a Thanksgiving weekend, Defever has somehow managed to find his own voice.

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