Leland and the Silver Wells “Riverboat”

Rubia Records 2024

Fireflies and moonlit skies.

Artwork for Leland And The Silver Wells Riverboat AlbumLeland And The Silver Wells’ fifth album ‘Riverboat’ threatens to be the masterpiece we at AUK have been waiting for. The Los Angeles-based band led by painter and photographer Leland Ettinger bring us a collection of thought-provoking songs of life, death, despair and inner strength. The cover of the band’s last outing ‘Straight to Your Town’ saw Ettinger photographed packed and ready to go sitting on her suitcase in the snow. Where in the musical journey would Ettinger and the band depart?

For all the talk and comparisons with Joni Mitchell and Pink Floyd, there is more of a late 60’s Beatles vibe to many of the songs, especially the orchestration. It is as if George Martin returned to help with production and could not keep John Lennon and Yoko Ono out of the studio. That is not detrimental to the sonic journey Ettinger takes us on. There is at times, so much going on that it takes a few listens to appreciate the sheer depth of the music. The start of the album is remarkably strong.

The challenging ‘Requiem’ opens the album with its theme of manipulation and exploitation. Ettinger sings “Netherworld territory rusted open gate didn’t find the voice inside me until it was too late, I got an urge to sing you a little dirge and it goes like this”,  followed by the haunting lines “Shining starlight evenings so innocent and free, In just a moment a drowning that stole the light from me, then he told me, you can’t tell anyone”.

‘Hold on Tight’ continues the psychedelic feel of the album with orchestrations and soaring vocals. Ettinger’s voice is used as an instrument as much as the actual instruments. It is hard to believe that the album was recorded in a two-day live session. This live feel certainly comes through and has worked extremely well. The obvious single ‘Six Feet Underground’ epitomises the overall sound and feel of the album. The subject matter becomes clear because it is too late to sort anything out when you are dead. ‘Riverboat’ closes the album with a beautiful piano piece with symphonic backing. You will detect a Sergeant Pepper vibe with the piano and string quartet then are taken off guard by a brilliant banjo finish carrying you downstream.

Not quite the masterpiece but there is enough here to enjoy and something different captures your attention with a new favourite track emerging with each listen. Ettinger and the band are mining the past to create something fresh and noteworthy.

7/10
7/10

About Andy Short 10 Articles
You would think with all the music I listen to I would be able to write a song but lyrically I get nowhere near some of the lines I've listened to. Maybe one day but until then I will keep on listening.
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