The Sweet Clementines guitarist and singer John Burdick and bassist Jason Sarubbi have been entrenched in New Paltz's local music scene long before the area became a destination for Brooklyn and Manhattan expats, and you will still not find two better representatives of the town's rich sonic soil. Five years following their illuminating debut, Though It Were the Kiss of Death, the group ups its game with Lake Victoria. Produced by Burdick and Sarubbi with a strong lineup rounded out by Ratboy drummer Matt Senzatimore along with multi-instrumentalists Marianne Tasick and Paul Carroll, these are 13 uplifting songs, warmly crafted with artisan levels of melodies that made albums like the Waterboys' Fisherman's Blues, Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, and Wilco's Summerteeth so essential to our diets.
And it is that sense of familiarity that helps such great tracks as "Diluvia," "Voice Lessons," and the gorgeous "A Waltz for Matt Coleman" resonate so deeply long after the album's 57 minutes are up. Though he's no longer a full-time member, fellow New Paltz pop luminary Chris Tanis contributed one song here, the wise "Teaching Children Not to Doubt," while the comely voice of Tasick takes center stage on "Heart Like a Muscle" and "Sweet Imagination No. 5." That the Sweet Clementines are still not signed to a national record label is just criminal. Lake Victoria makes a compelling case for bringing this most talented group of longtime locals to the big stage.