The Vespers – Tell Your Mama
Black Suit Records 2010 (March 11th)
[tags: acoustic folk (pop), 2010]
Listen while reading:
It’s done, dear CFM readers. The Vespers (we talked about them earlier very enthusiastically) finished recording their debut record Tell Your Mama and have sent out the CDs for pressing. Along with this they aired the first three singles which you can find in this very post. I was really, really curious and eager to finally hear and spread the news about it, because the early recordings, just featuring the female side of the band, were just great and I said beforehand, that the debut record will have good changes to be one of the best folk records of 2010 – I know, maybe it was a bit early to say so judging from only a hand full demos, but I think I had a very good feeling with this guess.
I can’t tell you for sure, but listening to the three songs available, this is certainly a big fish The Vespers landed. Not So Nice, the opener of the album, was really great in the past, as it still was work in progress so to say, and now, as a full song, is still great, but in a more complex way. The first things you’ll notice listening will be the presence of a rhythm section with Bruno Jones on upright bass and Taylor Jones on drums. Both really provide some dynamics to the songs and the former folksy only atmosphere is now replaced by a slightly more folk pop orientated one. I won’t adjudicate if this is better or worse, this too much depends on personal taste. I for myself like the “old” Vespers (old…really??…come on, they just released their debut!, there isn’t quite an old sound. I know…) and I certainly like the “new” ones.
But back to Not So Nice. I said it still sounds great and this is what it does. It got a really nice nu-folk kick to it (I assure you, I myself really don’t know what nu-folk means) and is, though calm, forward driven especially because the drums and the bass really deliver a good drive to it. This forwardness is also the reason I call the sound more folk pop than just folk. The voices and the guitars and ukes are very pretty cool too, especially the angel-like harmony between Callie and Phoebe – man do I love this interaction of voices. Really good opener, clearly showing the enormous potential of the band.
Next track in line is the title track of the album, Tell Your Mama, and the character is different from the first track, more reflected and more serious – in a musically way. The vocal parts are more traditional and even more pop orientated. This isn’t meant in a negative way, but the whole structure of the song points that way. I think the fact that they’ve chosen this one as the title track shows, that the combination of folk and pop is intended and should give a first picture of what the complete album will sound like. Me, again, likes it very much.
Last single from the upcoming album, which, by the way, will hit the road March 11th and you really should pre-order that CD right now…yes…and back to the last single, Cottonfield. Fans of the early Iron & Wine will certainly discover some serious similarities to his overwhelming The Creek Drank The Cradle – and this sure is a very good sign! Cottonfield comes without drums and is a reminiscence to the demos I spoke of above – a gentle heart-warming folk song featuring only acoustic guitars and the voices of Phoebe and Callie.
And so these three singles really give a wonderful overview on the musical range of this record. From nu-folk(?) to folk pop and straight ahead to old school acoustic folk with only vocals and guitars – great selection, great music, what else to say?
As much as I would have loved it to say nothing negative about the tracks, one thing, for truth’s sake, must be mentioned. As much as I love the songwriting, the voices and even the integration of the rhythm section (I was a bit skeptical about it in the past), I don’t think the mastering of the record is the really best. I listened to all the tracks on two different (good) stereos and two times I really felt that there was too much bass on the bass drum. Doesn’t seems to be a big deal, and maybe it isn’t, but it doesn’t support the gentleness those lovely tracks inherit. But maybe this is just the modern sound of folk music one of the self-declared busiest music nerds of the internet, Anthony Fan-Fan-Fantano from the fantastic The Needle Drop, spoke about in his very good review for Midlake’s The Courage Of Others (for their sound is much too old school, he says – and by the way I don’t share this opinion). So, maybe it’s just me and I’m not quite prepared for the new sound of folk…but honestly, check out on your own.
Sooooooo, I hope you like the music and all of you instantly head over to The Vespers MySpace and pre-order a copy of their soon to be released debut record Tell Your Mama…because if you won’t, I will find out and I will—
p.s. some words about the full release follow as soon as I got hold of it!