Written by Susanna de Martino
Sometimes there's more to an album than is immediately apparent. Sometimes there isn't, and that can be even better. Who, Me?, the latest LP from Juan Wauters, is skillful in its simplicity. Nothing is cloaked in excess noise — simple chord progressions and sentence structure let his lyrics hit home. Which is not to say that the album is unsophisticated — Wauters’ style is clearly evolving, as this album is somewhat more stripped down than his last, and significantly more so than any of his work with The Beets. Who, Me? is simply unpretentious, lo-fi folk from an artist whose taste has become increasingly minimalist.
Who, Me? is intensely autobiographical, an album that sounds like a confessional and an exploration of identity. It’s also full of accusations, but they come across gently, mellowed both by the singer’s delivery and an overarching sense of placidity. Wauters calls out both himself (“I grew up thinking I’d be a hero / what am I doing?”) and his acquaintances ("you got a job to stay busy, and don't think about who you'd be if you didn't have to work") These lyrics, the pinpointing of his own and his friends’ lack of direction, could come across as biting from another artist; Wauters softens the blow with his nasal crooning and relaxed guitar playing.
If Who, Me? has a significant flaw, it’s the lack of variety across most of the songs. With the notable exception of “This Is I,” a spare synth track that is one of the album’s best, most songs follow the same formula and structure — a handful of guitar chords, some bass to ground them, and simple piano melodies. But maybe there's nothing wrong with finding a dependable sound and sticking with it, and for fans of Wauters’ style, Who, Me? will be treat.
Who, Me? was released through Captured Tracks and can be purchased through the label’s