Skittish “Savannah Sessions” (Independent 2020)

Skittish’s latest album was made by Jeff Noller (the primary member of Skittish) while he was in Savannah Georgia completing his film sound degree.  The music on the ‘Savannah Sessions’ is a mix of folk, rock with some indie sensibilities and classic melodies.  The songs are catchy on initial listen and provide greater depth on repeated plays. This is largely because Skittish has a lovely vocal tone which is both warm and inviting and soulful.

The tone of the album feels hopeful and optimistic while the lyrics seem to be about difficulties faced.  It isn’t clear if the songs are autobiographical or written about others or entirely fictitious but the feeling the listener is left with is one of a man wrestling with himself.  There is a feeling of self-examination throughout the album with Skittish casting an eye on himself. Some of the songs bear a resemblance to bands like Fountains of Wayne (terrible name – great band) using upbeat music while portraying darker subject matter.  The clash of beautiful melodies intertwined with lyrics about tragedy make this a very strong, interesting album.

The album is an incredibly coherent collection of songs but each one is varied in structure and sound.  ‘Car Crash Companion‘ rattles along like early Arcade Fire, ‘Blue Daisies‘ with it’s growling rock sound would fit in nicely as part of the soundtrack for “Sons of Anarchy” or “The Wire”.   The final song (‘Beautiful in Black‘) would not have sounded out of place on “Glee”.   Noller notes that this album was initially created in his apartment leading to a hushed sound but with the additional local musicians including female vocalists Rachel Boissevain, Juliana Henao Mes and Brianna Tagg involved the songs feel joyous and full of life.

One of the standout tracks is ‘the hole‘ in which Skittish seems to be singing about being trapped (whether in a relationship, addiction or negative emotional state).  It appears to be about the desire to escape the difficult space (“have to pay the piper and its feeding time again”) and the difficulties if you do manage to do this (“when my darkness lifted it was oh so bittersweet.. what the hell do I do now?”).  The song’s rhythms building throughout with him concluding that “I don’t like my situation but not enough to change it” but that he’ll “try again”.

Ultimately this album feels like a genuine exploration challenges faced in life but there is an underlying message of hopefulness.  ‘Savannah Sessions‘ is definitely an album which makes a strong initial impression but is even better with repeated listens.

Indie folk-rock of a joyous nature that rewards listener on repeated listens
9/10

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