Back in 2009 The Walla Recovery released With Trembling which as they describe as a “chamber-folk rock story.”The album features a wide variety of beautiful sounding acoustic instruments such as cello, guitar and mandolin that come together to make pop-inspired music that is radio friendly and reminiscent of bands like Nickel Creek. The first time I heard this album I was turned off by their mainstream tendencies and while this is still the main issue I have when listening to the album, the creative exceptional playing of the string instruments made me listen to the songs again. Then I was starting to become more attracted to them with repeated listenings. It kind of reminded me of the songs from that movie “Once” when upon the first time I listened to it, I didn’t think I could like these songs at all but after a couple of times listening to it, I was embarrassingly singing along.
The band works best when they are upbeat and start to sound like a bluegrass band with the mandolins cascading notes, the guitars energized picking and the warmth of the cello. I actually would have loved to hear this as an instrumental album. The slower songs weren’t my favorite as they often combined drippy, simple lyrics with melancholy and nostalgia. That being said, some of the slower songs do have their finer moments.
With Trembling starts with “She Said” which has the band in full swing together. A nice combination of cello, mandolin, drums, bass, and guitar which were enough to let me appreciate the standard radio ready format they chose to abide by. “The Spoils of Warring Hearts” is one of the better slower songs that contains an original vocals melody and makes great use of the cello. “Disaster” was the highlight of the album. The upbeat song was a hopeful song that worked because of its restraint from becoming too grandiose. Overall, I have an ambivalent relationship with this album. At times I was able to truly appreciate the obvious talent exuding from all of these individuals and other times I felt the mainstream tendencies in regards to format, delivery, and production impeding my ability to truly enjoy. So now you know how I feel why don’t you take a listen and judge for yourself.
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