Evan Burgess reviews the Black Feathers newest release 'Strangers we Meet', copy 173 to be precise...
After buying the new Black Feathers E.P. after a wonderful performance at the Vaults, it was clear that when the band plays live it sounds CD quality. So what sound would the band actually produce from a record player? With a 5 track E.P. with all the tracks well tested live in the UK and USA, it would be interesting to see if the studio was used as another instrument or if it would sit in the background and just document the live experience.
The answer was a combination of both. When ‘Strangers We Meet” begins, it is hard to hear anything but the crispness of guitar and vocals. But as it develops crescendos of reverb and swooshes of violin drop in with complete congruity. Then comes the resonance of double bass, keeping a tight plod that is the one thing that holds you down to earth as the emotional vocals build to ecstasy.
Track 2, 10,000 times pumps a caffeine high of energy into the listener. The dissonant harmonies cause goose bumps. Reminiscent of Alice in Chain’s ‘No Excuses’ the song is effervescent and yet pounding. The vocal lines are familiar and yet go to places where you would least expect at the last moment.
Open book is a well known live favourite, with the signature homely harmonies dodging in unexpected directions like one of those fireworks that doesn’t seem to stop exploding. But at the core it is quite a simple ballad that people can pick the main chorus lines from if they wanted to sing along. That though, is the only thing. People wouldn’t usually dare trying to sing along at a Black Feathers show as they are there to listen. The intimate nature of the recording also means that at home, trying to sing along feels wrong. Because there is such a live feel to the record, you’d feel like you were interrupting even when you were driving in your car.
The last two tracks ‘You Will Be Mine’ and ‘All Came Down’ represent the personality of the band. With the instrumentation sounding thick and countrified on ‘All Came Down’ the tricks of harmony all seem to be put into action to make the three minute song feel more epic than the time it really consumes. The strings and mandolin are a perfect compliment to the guitar and vocals, which are the only thing you would usually hear on the song from live performances. But if the record sells as many copies as it deserves, then perhaps that will soon change with a larger audience requiring a larger live show.
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