Most folk musicians these days seem to try a bit too hard for authenticity, evident in their bad facial hair and the unnecessarily strained vocals they employ. Unlike the vast majority of these groups, many of whom are probably just trying to pander to the NPR crowd, Blake Mackey seems genuine. At first glance, this record might not seem particularly impressive; the disk is packaged in what looks like a page ripped from a CD case, the press release was printed on a scrap piece of paper, and the recording is decidedly low-fi. However, this record sets itself apart from other contemporary folk recordings because Mackey places emphasis on elements within his arrangements that others often neglect.
What sets this record apart from many other contemporary folk recordings is Mackey's approach to guitar playing. Unlike many folk guitarists, who seem content to strum a simple pattern of chords, Mackey's playing is more varied, evoking the works of Fahey or Sir Richard Bishop. Additionally, all six tracks include vocals from Mackey and an unnamed female musician. But, while their vocals are pleasant, voice takes a backseat to guitar playing. The way Mackey has arranged these pieces stands in stark contrast to most contemporary folk; while most folk musicians treat their instruments as a source of background music for their lyrics, one gets the sense that Mackey sees his use of vocals as an excuse to record short guitar pieces.
In spite of the fact that I did enjoy this album, I couldn't help but feel that these songs would have sounded a lot more powerful live than they do on CD. Like many forms of popular music, folk sounds significantly better in a live setting. This might seem like an unfair criticism; I'm reviewing a recording, not a concert. However, this explains perfectly my feelings about this release. “C'mon Eschaton” feels less like something I'd want to order online and more like a memento that I might purchase from Mackey after catching a set of his. Ultimately, reviewing this recording for a website that will publish it alongside a dozen or so other reviews seems anachronistic; this is the sort of recording that harkens back to a time when the primary way that people listened to music was by going to see it in a live setting. That doesn't make this record any less special; in fact, it's part of this record's charm. 7/10 -- Jonathan Rahardjo (18 August, 2010)