Essentially an Austin-based duo comprising Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay, the album fleshed out with various backing musicians, the most obvious - though not only - musical touchstone is the Everlys, evinced through their close harmonies, most notably so on the stripped back acoustic tracks 'Round Prairie Road' and 'Harder Way', the former a particularly wonderful echo of 60s American folksy pop.
It opens with jangling banjo and electric guitar patterns of the mid-tempo march beat of 'Crazy World (Judgement Day)', an apocalyptic vision of the modern world as it heads towards oblivion ("I tried believing in the goodness of a man .. I learned my lesson") as they ask "Are we just a terrorizing no good group of criticizing fools… running round without a clue."
However, having dived into the gloom, they resurface into the light for 'This Too Shall Pass', a number more inclined to the jauntier side of Paul Simon with its handclaps rhythm, whistling and chorus hoo hoos that, as the title suggests, informs our despondent complainant that things will get better.
The first of two numbers that head to the six-minute mark, 'Killing You, Killing Me' is a spare acoustic track about putting a broken relationship back together after realising that what seemed to be escape was just a harsher prison. The second, 'Something That You Know', is equally stripped back, though here with bass and drums underpinning the harmonies, that again talks of making a sea change, the voice of experience cautioning that others have felt they were right to make a move adding, "Brother don't say I didn't warn you/When you end up there."
Sandwiched in-between is the strummed uptempo waltztime 'Who Hung The Moon' that surely owes a debt to 'She Sang Hymns Out Of Tune' written by Jesse Lee Kincaid and record by, among others, 60s San Francisco folk rock outfit Hearts & Flowers.
An instrumental, 'Mountain Preamble' is, to be honest, something of a filler that doesn't really go anywhere, likewise a cover of 'California Dreamin'' is well-executed and wistful but adds nothing to the original. They recover though for the final two tracks, 'Mayday Man' a frisky shuffling drums number that again returns to the theme of, as they put it here, not being ready for the ride to the other side and ending up taking on water.
Again nudging past the fine-minute mark, it ends with the slow waltz 'Winter's Lament', resonator guitar and muted drums scaffolding a song that, punctuated by Clay's harmonica, finally offers shards of hope as they sing "Let's set out for the countryside/And see what we can find" with winter "letting go of its hold" and the final lines before the fade being "I feel summer creeping in."
The album title, incidentally, comes from the fact that it was recorded in a studio overlooking the San Isabel National Forest in Colorado and was, says Clay, about taking a moment to step back from social media, the internet and the frantic pace on life's superhighway and just focus on existing. You might not always like what you realise, but if nothing else it might give you pause to consider just how much you want to be part of the traffic.
|Nic Jones: An Introduction To... (Old)||Union Duke: Golden Days|
The Fatea Showcase Sessions are a series of downloads featuring acts that we've really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear.
Click Here to get the latest session