BY RILEY FANNING
A new podcast titled “S-Town” unravels the unsettling mysteries of a small town in rural Alabama and its quirky inhabitants. Created by Brian Reed, the intriguing series investigates much- a possible murder, a corrupt county, the characters themselves.
The seven-part series all began with an email to Brian Reed from an extraordinarily eccentric man named John B. Macklemore. He believed that in his small hometown of Woodstock, located in largely unknown Bibb County, Alabama, there had been a murder that was covered up. Brian and John join up to investigate, and from there the podcast was born.
“S-town” provides narration from Brian and recordings of John. Beneath Macklemore’s thick, rolling Alabama accent, is an astoundingly brilliant man and is the jewel of the show. He is an antiquarian horologist (antique clock repairer) with a biting sense of humor, is the shining jewel of the series. Listening to his ramblings and learning more about him is one of the most intensely interesting parts of the podcast.
“S-Town’s” intrigue and southern, gothic charm gives off a similar feeling of the novel “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”. Each episode is around an hour long, and the narrative twists and turns are fascinating. From murder, to family relations, to the small town and its inhabitants, depression and societal issues, this podcast touches on a broad spectrum.
This complicated area of exploration reflects the complicated inner workings of the focus of the podcast, John, and his ideas about his hometown and the world at large.
Within each episode, things get more personal as Reed digs deeper and deeper into the lives of the people, the town, and the secrets they all hold. The lush, descriptive prose and evocative music used turns real events in this small town into an intriguing tale within the podcast. Problems arise, however, within this intense scrutiny of people.
At times, the severe detail in which Reed goes into the life of those residing within Bibb County feels almost too personal. It becomes uncomfortable to hear the intimate details of their thoughts and actions, although they can be exceedingly interesting. It is as if the listener is a fly on the wall, hearing things they are not actually present for and should not know. In some ways the podcast feels biographical, and at other times feels overly invasive.
While there are some problems within “S-Town”, it allows the rare opportunity to see life from a new perspective, and examines the curious relations within a forgotten American town with mystery and humor.
The Flyer gives S-Town an 8/10.