“Take it in little bites and you’ll be all right” is the advice of Thomas Truax‘s grandmother, relayed in Little Bites (Granny Says Part 2). For this song, weighed down by an overwrought introduction that takes up more than half the track, Truax doesn’t seem to have heeded her, but Granny’s words of wisdom have rubbed off on this album more broadly.
All That Heaven Allows is an eclectic mix of solid pop songs embellished with weird details and played with the assistance of Truax’s unique homemade instruments. “It’s a Cape Canaveral carnival, a Busby Berkeley musical,” as he puts it in The Mobile Starts To Spin; a trip into Lynchian American gothic with real storytelling all the way.
It’s not without its longueurs: his penchant for an over-lengthy introduction is a feature that crops up a few times, and lead single Save Me doesn’t really merit the reprise it’s given towards the end of the album.
But Truax’s detailed lyrics and ear for atmosphere prevent it from being dull. The eerie Precarious Waltz combines a strange, elastic rhythm section with exuberant piano, and the industrial undertones and spoken word echoes of Tonight We’re Gonna Fly give that song a real darkness. There are inconsistencies, but All That Heaven Allows is a success when taken in little bites.