Melodramatic pop probably doesn’t get much more illustrious than ‘Dry The River’. They are the 5-piece Stratford based folk-rockers formed in 2009. The band has now released their new album ‘Shallow Bed‘ in two formats (acoustic & deluxe versions.) The acoustic has 11 tracks and the deluxe recording offers 17.
Starting with the disconcerting rhythm of ‘Animal Skins’ – this song soon glides up to that glossy golden chorus that you have come to admire with this band. It almost swims at you – like a shoal of goldfish on the crest. The song is crafted like a multi tiered cake. It is ripe and rampant. But stages itself pompous and proud. It is full of iconic style and gushing Kinks-like guitar chords – the effect is an incredibly hot and passionate hymn to the common man.
The tremulous voice of Peter Liddle on ‘New Ceremony’ begins to chill you to the bone – right from the start. The highly nuanced violin from Will also modestly harvests a crop of clear spikes in the tide. And the intelligent lyrics – although clever-clever – never become tedious.
The voice eventually becomes a rival to the majestic and opulent obsession that surrounds the instrumental sounds. Then, at last, it operates at it’s full – almost operatic – circumference and width. This is a superb song. Filled with ambition and cunning imagination.
‘Shield Your Eyes’ has a lolloping beat. Much like a donkey ride on a sandy beach. But the celestial voices – when you envision them – will have you raising your eyes in awe towards the glory of heaven. That voice is clear and taught. As tense as an angel wing caught in a glue trap. The strings entwine the rattling percussion – and these salivate and greasily explode like hot-fat from a frothing cooking pot.
‘History Book’ then chortles in. A simply strummed acoustic guitar illuminates the silvery-moon clear voice – and this skillfully articulates itself between the anchors of chords and the bony rhythms – as it artfully begins a gentle wallpapering.
‘The Chambers & The Valves’ is the most Morrisey-sounding piece from the band. But never so sulky or so drowsy. This song – on coronary catheterization – may well be inspired by the pain felt on the insides of our vessels – but I prefer to think that it refers to the heaving chambers found within those powerful Crystal Cathedral organs. After all… the pump and sigh is about the same. In both.
We are alerted to ‘Demons’ by a whine and a cautious note. The choirboy leads us – unharmed – up the nave and into the chancel-house – for a touch of credence and tenderness. This song has so many African colours and textures that it may well remind you of the ‘Rhythm of the Pride Lands’ in hue and in breadth.
‘Bible Belt’ has in insistent guitar hook and a succulent voice that rises like a sky lantern in the evening air. It wafts and jolts rather than actually moves. The rice paper gets caught by a gust, and then it is sent away. Soaring and quivering. Floating into the horizon. This is an extraordinarily emotive song.
The key to ‘No Rest’ possibly lurks within the lyric: “Then you came, a single cell…” This is a song about the tiring work of taking care of something (or someone) newborn. Full of life, full of hope, full of expectation. But not for the care-giver. For them the reward is just more unforgiving toil. There is no rest for the wicked. For a life-giver this is a mystifying period of endurance – so full of marvel – yet as the creator/carer – you are unable to generate enough energy to properly fathom all of the wonder.
The ‘Shakers’ alluded to in the ‘Shaker Hymns’ song were members of an eighteenth century religious sect – famous for their habit of adopting orphan children to swell their ranks. This is the most rose cottage heart-and-hearth country song on the disc. It artfully describes the emotional atmosphere of the ‘Shaker Movement’ whose songs often consisted of umpteen ululated syllables and nonsensical words – often creatively ‘formed’ from unknown tongues. Angelic and pure.
‘Lion’s Den’ has rat-a-tatty beat and a bright accompaniment. The diaphanous voice shakes like a little bean-leaf in a frenzy. This song is one of bewilderment and utter loneliness “ I miss you like a limb / like a hole in the head.” But the song soon becomes ever more rampant and extravagant. The band creates a storming flurry of glittering, bright clouds and golden flowers. Until the piece reaches it’s full, high and luxurious climax.
It really does create a sensational piece of spiritual momentum. Unstoppable.
And Impossible to ignore.
– © Neil_Mach June 2013 –