“It’s been classified as indie-folk-chamber pop. I don’t know what that means really,” singer/songwriter/guitarist Spencer Knox says about his project, Slightly Drawn.
Like many musicians, Knox becomes noticeably uncomfortable when asked to describe and categorize his music.
“He gets compared to Bright Eyes, Elliot Smith,” keyboardist Erin Fey helps out.
Some would describe Slightly Drawn as “emo,” though this is a difficult term to use for those of us who fondly remember the work of comedian Emo Philips.
You could say Knox is Slightly Drawn—he often performs solo under the “band” name; on other occasions, various side members accompany him. For shows in Reno, his most consistent collaborator is Fey, who has never been able to join Knox on any out-of-town performances. He also has a bass player and drummer in Salt Lake City who have not toured or recorded with him but who join him for shows when he happens to be in their area.
Slightly Drawn has released a five-song EP titled Trapped Inside a Picture Frame. Knox explains, “It’s kind of like Elliot Smith’s early recordings,” in that the only instruments on the disc are acoustic guitar and keyboards, sparingly played by Fey, who also added some vocal harmonies.
But it’s not just the sparse arrangements that are reminiscent of Elliot Smith’s work. Knox’s vocals, delivering unfailingly melancholy lyrics, are also similarly wispy, often on the verge of dissolving into the backing music. Let’s hope Knox eschews further comparisons to Smith by never deciding to stab himself in the heart.
The EP is available through Hatcher Pass records, more of a music cooperative than a conventional record label. Knox describes the company as a do-it-yourself, friends-helping-friends venture. Started by singer/songwriter Matt Hopper, Hatcher Pass now features 10 artists. A Hatcher Pass compilation, which will feature Slightly Drawn’s “Tomorrow,” is set to be released this fall.
Knox submitted “Tomorrow” to VH1’s Song of the Year Contest. The song impressively took third in the “folk” category. Since this placed Knox among the finalists, VH1 has sent copies of “Tomorrow” to various record companies and music producers.
Two of Slightly Drawn’s upcoming shows, featuring the uncertain line-up of Knox, Fey, and “maybe a bass player and drummer,” will be part of the Artown After Dark series, which is being organized, conveniently enough, by Fey.
“Basically, Artown decided—we’re lacking an age group in Reno … so they got together and decided we need to focus some kind of event this year on the age group between 20, 21 and 30, 35,” she explains.
Live music seemed the best draw for this demographic, so every Wednesday night in July, the Green Room hosts Artown After Dark. The Green Room was picked as a venue after the original idea of having all-ages shows proved impracticable.
“There are no all-age venues around,” says Fey.
Since the band Verbal Kint already had a regular Wednesday night show at the Green Room, they will be playing all four events, joined by additional acts of widely varying styles, from the Electrosonics’ jazz-funk-trip-hop to the Trainwrecks’ honky-tonk rock.
And, of course, Slightly Drawn’s “indie-folk-chamber pop.” Whatever that means.