In the movie Jerry Maguire there is the often-quoted line “you had me at hello” and when I was given the press release regarding this album it had me at “cello”.
The cello is one of a handful of instruments that I never tire of hearing in music, this is partly because I’m always interested in where it sits in the overall sound and its inclusion here makes for a beautiful addition to an already impressive bunch of songs.
The instruments on show here reads like a who’s who of folk music; guitar, upright bass, and banjo but don’t expect songs about life in the shipyards or the working man, these songs tread confidently through subjects from the love song of ‘Love Is’, through indie-sounding ‘May 18’ and ‘Any Light’ and the anxious offerings of ‘(Don’t Tell Me) There’s Nothing In My Head’ and ‘Everything’s Just Fine’ (that, by the way, has a brilliant intro) which are edgy and ironic in their subject matter, you can almost picture the calm interior of a psychiatrist office.
I’ve had this album playing for the last two weeks and I’m still finding things to keep me interested, the songs are well thought out and delivered. The strength of any album should always be the songs and the writing partnership of Johnathan Harms and Ryan Evans really do have something worth exploring. Boasting songs like ‘White Spider’, ‘Deal’ and ‘Bed’ the whole package is handled carefully. Sure, sometimes the lyrics try to be a little too clever but when the songs are this strong, who cares?
What this album shows is this small band of musicians (Grant Gordon, Kenny Befus and Katherine Canon make up the band along with Harms and Evans) can tackle and blur the boundaries of different genres, subjects and styles without losing that overall sound. I also like the way the vocals can be sweet and clean in one moment and then broken and angry in another, a strong weapon to have if you intend on keeping your listeners on their toes, and I think maybe this is the secret to this album, you are never really certain of where the music will take you next but when the journey is this good, do you really want a map?