Monday, March 24, 2008
Back in October Shane and I saw Forest City Lovers open up for Joel Plaskett. We were both won over by the band's performance, remarking that the almost shy performance of the band suited the atmosphere perfectly. They were gracious, melodic and full of smiles, but I wondered how that would transfer to a studio release.
What I didn't know is that Kat Burns and her band are seasoned performers and the new record is full of daring melodies and remarkable assuredness. Don't Go opens with Mika's Andrew Bird-like picked violin and Kat's vocals, but the song quickly evolves into swirling strings, a confident electric line, an infectious bass line and driving drums. The song last only 3-minutes, but clearly shows the band has developed a trust for each other that shines. The bass and strings jump in to help fill out Kat's minimal guitar notes and fade away when the guitar takes center stage.
Whether it's the nice hand claps and violin on Sullen Seas or the finger picked violin and drums on Two Hearts, the band compliments Kat's vocals and tone nicely. As a result, every song seems to unfold beautifully in front of you. The steady kick of the bass drum and the understated synths balance Kat's electric on Country Road - which is probably the most enjoyable track on a record full of enjoyable songs, but it's also the first indication of the darker shadows that follow Kat around.
The song is full of whimsy, but the edges creep into the darkness, like the forbidden forest or old house just out of town in some childhood tale. Kat opens up to the listener and contrasts the child like wonder of the melody with a more mature outlook. She's calm and curious and the vocal support of Kyle and Mika really help the floating melody seem other worldly.
It's hard to find fault with this record; the songs rarely exceed three-minutes, Kat's voice is crystal clear and the band support never falters. They constantly prove that that folk can be digestible and dark (like the violin work and chopstick driven piano of Pirates (cant all sail the indian ocean) or the swirling textures Mika creates on the chilling At the Border) and still feel completely weightless.
For me, the songs work best when the band starts layering sounds and varying tempos. Watching The Streetlights Glow plays like an epic, as the band shows incredible patience adding layer after layer. Kat's guitar work dominates the first two-minutes of the song, making it feel intimate despite the piano and choral vocals, but the band slowly fills out the sound. You keep expecting them to break into full stride, but instead they tease you with that anticipation.
I don't think I can say enough about Kat's song writing. This is her third release, and the consistency is amazing. The record closes with two tracks as strong (or stronger) than any before. The acoustic guitar led Charlottetown let's Mika share vocal duties with Kat and the instrumentation is bold and challenging. Orphans closes the record on a high; another catchy melody with a great guitar line, strings and harmonies and a bass line that makes it impossible to not start nodding along.
MP3:: Don't Goweb site :: buy the record from zunior