REVIEW: Andrew Rinehart – “Nothing/Everything”

Andrew Rinehart
Buddyhead Records

If anything, the one unifying thread woven through “Nothing/Everything” by Andrew Rinehart, is an existential malaise that seems infused in every note. That is made manifest in the shifting tonality of the album, which is equally apt to pursue drone or minimalist elements with folk and even power pop tropes amid themes of love lost and identity crises. It’s in that constant evolution that the album really flourishes, as much as an illustration of the talent of Rinehart as a composer, as it is in the tense balance between the coiled restraint found in each song and the overall pursuit of his muse, whatever that may be from track to track. Taken altogether there is definitely a dynamic and almost Futurist quality to the album, as if it’s a snapshot of a mind in motion incapable or uninterested in settling on any one particular vision, but somehow still producing a work of coherent and transcendent beauty.

So it goes that variety reigns supreme here. There are moments of sublime melancholy as with “Nude Descending a Staircase,” or delicate beauty as with “Stepping Out the World.” Rinehart makes a particularly daring challenge to reinvent “Famous Blue Raincoat” from Leonard Cohen’s seminal masterpiece Songs of Love and Hate, reimagined here as a stormy barnburner placed at the midway point on the album. In that sense, Rinehart proves his skill as a cultural curator, a la David Bowie or Björk; it’s not in the act of covering a song, but in putting such a specific and indelible mark on it, which in turn reveals a confidence and unmitigated curiosity that announces the record. Anything goes here and it often does. 
Of course, the twin paradox of the album is the concept of nothing and everything: there is literally a universe of possibilities and we all struggle to reconcile those opportunities with what we perceive to be our responsibilities. Is it everything or is it nothing? That the album is more often melancholic and spare would imply more the latter than the former, but that’s all tempered by the multi-faceted approach to writing here. Anything goes, so everything is possible for Rinehart, making his full-length not only a labor of love, but a Schrödinger’s Cat conundrum where everything and nothing exists in tandem, depending on your state of mind. It’s that ambiguity that lends to the universal appeal of Rinehart’s work, and one that renders Nothing/Everything as timeless.

Listen below and see what the fuss is all about.