Although D. Charles Speer & The Helix hail from Brooklyn, Doubled Exposure resembles the soundtrack to an existentialist Greek wedding set in the deepest recesses of a Tennessee backwater; and I mean that in the best way possible. Its consolidation of antiquated and contemporary music is generally inventive, occasionally poignant and always entertaining.

The enigmatic fusion of jazz blues, '50s rock'n'roll and Greek Rebetiko music, glazed with modern post-rock and country-rock sensibilities, is initially overwhelming but becomes more accessible, and enjoyable, the longer you settle into the record. The opening two tracks, 'Wallwalker' and 'Cretan Lords', begin dissonantly, particularly 'Wallwalker', which is powered by a ruggedly reverbed guitar riff and a cheerfully perpetual blues piano loop. Once I became adjusted to the tormented melody the track became more groovy than jarring, a rollicking country-rock shindig. 'Cretan Lords' is the most explicit example of the Rebetiko influence, opening with a shrill bouzouki and sinister background drones before transforming into a densely atmospheric, intelligently constructed allegory where Greek legend represents individual disillusionment; Shuford croons that he's "sleepwalk[ing] through this labyrinth of life."

These didactic mythological metaphors (the quoted line assumedly an allusion to King Minos of Crete's incomprehensible labyrinth) could easily pass as intellectual snobbery; the kind painfully illustrated in Alex Turner's contrived Lovecraft and Poe references on the AM B-side 'You're so Dark', but Shuford's husky drawl supplements his brooding with a clear, elegant sincerity. Similarly to Bill Callahan or Mark Kozalek, Shuford's deeply emotive vocals evoke mood and relate narrative better than the most philosophical, poetic lyrics. 'Cretan Lords' isn't the only song which deals in weighty self-reflection. The ostensibly post-rock, 10-minute instrumental 'Mandorla at Dawn' suggest the same unspoken power as Godspeed You! Black Emperor yet lacks that group's vitality and tension, and is arguably Double Exposure's weakest song. It's overlong, often transgressing into banality and the jazz keyboards are noticeably incongruous. Much, much better is the title track. The arrangement is gorgeous; a haunted guitar, a deftly implemented pedal steel, and a reticent drum beat underscore Shuford's astonishing rumination on the vulnerability of the human conscious, and consequently humanity. Shuford is at his most intense and impassioned here, "from these eyes I bleed." The subject matter is violently introspective, perhaps even solipsistic, and when it culminates in a cathartic guitar solo Shuford threatens to spiral luridly out of control; but again his captivating candour keeps things grounded.

These instances of profound self-reflection are welcomingly interrupted by light moments, such as the conventionally bluesy 'Bootlegging Blues' or the chirpy but ultimately bland 'Red Clay Road'. 'The Heated Hand's' playfully heated guitar duel is enormous fun; and its interplay, only disrupted by a sporadic and insubstantial Shuford warble, surprisingly elaborate. 'Tough Soup' follows the title track and closes the album, and ensures The Helix exit with a triumphant bang. By now Shuford is self-assured, he's 'living on high', and with such a philanthropic instrumentation to support him, who can blame him.

Shuford asks some big questions, largely of himself, but 'Tough Soup' infers he doesn't forget the principal dogma of the country rocker is to enjoy themselves.