Saturnine – Mid the Green Fields

What I Think of When I Think of This Artist (part 2)

As with the debut, I have no recollection of how I acquired this. The back cover looks to be a little water-damaged, and the front insert is sort of warped as well, so I feel like I rescued my copy from a terrible wet fate. I don’t play this too often, and that is a personal failure that I am going to work on remedying. I don’t have a lot of info on what happened to Saturnine after their respectably long run. Matt Gallaway has a blog and it appears that he has written a couple of novels and is into photography. Jennifer Baron formed the Garment District. Mike Donofrio (like Gallaway) graduated from my law school two years ahead of me and (unlike Gallaway) is practicing in Vermont.

What I Think of This Album

Well, either Saturnine enjoys sabotaging their albums, or they and I have very different ideas of what is “good” music. Just as with Wreck At Pillar Point, they completely fuck up the sequencing here. Opener “Buried Ships” is a bland instrumental that bears zero relationship to the outstanding slate of songs that follows it. Guitarist/singer Matt Gallaway states that he felt this song heralded a new, more refined version of the band. I honestly don’t know what he is talking about. But, it was his band and his song, so . . .  

The rest of Mid the Green Fields is indeed revelatory. It is the work of a much more self-assured band, radiating with intentionality and demonstrating depth and sophistication. I have not yet listened to intervening second album Flags for Unknown Territories, so I can’t tell if the sounds on Mid were a leap or a steady progression from the music on Wreck.

The REM comparisons are arguably inapt this time, and notably, Galloway has much better command of his voice. The band also displays more control over the tempos. While still generally slow, the songs unfold organically and the quartet of Gallaway, Jennifer Baron, Mike Donofrio, and Jim Harwood steer the ship instead of letting it drift. Too, the album benefits from the contributions of Gary Olson (The Ladybug Transistor) on brass and cello from Randy Schloss. Almost every track is a gem – melodic, graceful, assured, emphatic.

Additional contributors are Sasha Bell and Chris Ziter, both of the Essex Green. Bell was also in the Ladybug Transistor for a spell, and Baron was a founding member of that band. Interestingly, Jeff Baron of the Essex Green was likewise a member of The Ladybug Transistor, and it seems like he and Jennifer are siblings.

Olson helped record most of this, but some tracks were recorded in part by Kurt Ralske (Ultra Vivid Scene).

The Best Thing About This Album

That it brings honor to lawyer-musicians everywhere. Go Violets!

Release Date

September, 1998

The Cover Art

I think Gallaway said they took this image from the cover of a classical music album. It’s okay.

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