Surprising and original album of quality folk-rock.
‘Night is Alive’ trips you up on first listen. The first two tracks are pleasant enough generic folk-rock taking their influences from Crosby, Stills and Nash: swirling guitars and good harmonies. ‘Not the End’ touches on environmental issues and ‘Canyon’ on love and loss. All standard themes for the genre and solid songs. Interesting guitar riffs and the blending of three strong voices has an anthemic quality. But nothing terribly original or arresting.
It is third track, ‘A Million Miles of Low Road’, that makes you re-assess. It’s a quietly insistent track about the harm we do to ourselves and those we love, “So it is true that words can hurt you, Specially the ones that I mutter to myself.” Then we move on to ‘Holy Shit’ a song that points a direct finger at the root causes of our fractured and damaged society: a coldly clinical naming of “these old men and their money, Laying waste to everything.”
Before the album bounces back with the upbeat and rousing ‘Wait No More’ and the uplifting ‘Are We Alright?’ whose touchstones seem to be late sixties folk-rock with maybe a pinch of the Mike Nesmith influenced Monkees.
Gradually the album reveals itself as something beyond the patchwork folk-rock it originally appeared. This process culminates in the startling ‘IFH’ which seems to start by focusing on excessive irritability at the small issues which crop up in everyday life, before it transforms into a pointed criticism of Trump and the unfairness of mortality. Musically the song might be undeveloped, but in turns of raw emotion it is right there and underlines the directness that is revealed elsewhere in TEOA’s music.
Penultimate track ‘Empty Sea’ is a re-recording of a song used by Bernie Sanders in a campaign video for his 2016 presidential bid which segues into ‘Can’t do this Alone’ which brings us back to the stirring folk-rock harmonies where we started.
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