Avi Vinocur is a San Francisco singer, guitarist, producer, and preternaturally talented songwriter -- a modern musician with an old soul's gift for storytelling.

NO CAUSE FOR ALARM is the first major solo work from Vinocur, who's built a national following in blues-rock and Americana circles as the co-frontman of Goodnight, Texas (and, previously, The Stone Foxes). An urgent, cathartic record written in fits of inspiration during the first tumultuous months of 2017, the album eschews simple, knee-jerk political messages; Vinocur, who's toured every state in the continental U.S., chooses instead to indulge his deep curiosity about the regular people who make up our vast American landscape.

At a moment when the country feels fragile if not volatile under the weight of its divisions, NO CAUSE FOR ALARM is a study in anger, grief and wry humor, a capsule of timely yet timeless stories about the universal human experience: heartbreak, poverty, the joy of escapism, the death of a loved one.

"This was me coping with the changing world," says Vinocur, noting that the record's use of heavy electric guitar felt necessary for reflecting 2017, unlike the immersive acoustic folk and blues sound fans have come to expect from the Civil War-era themes and songs of Goodnight, Texas. Recorded entirely in the singer's bedroom in San Francisco's Sunset District, NO CAUSE FOR ALARM's intimacy and drama is heightened by the absence of drums; Vinocur lets his voice, paired with a 1998 Fender Toronado through a Milkman amplifier, stay front and center.

"I didn't want to be specifically negative about the times in which we live, or the characters at its forefront," he says of the record's lyrics. "I just wanted to scream into an empty room."

Instead, he wrote a poem a day, and set them to music with an unforeseen immediacy. The result is a raw, visceral record that reveals Vinocur's range and imagination as solo artist, and highlights his skill for inhabiting vastly different protagonists -- crafting richly rendered, three-dimensional characters with ease.

"This is the situation we're in, and I really do think empathy is what we need to survive in this new era, whether it turns out to be five months or eight years," says Vinocur. "We have to put ourselves in our neighbors' shoes."

 

-Emma Silvers

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