As someone who identifies as a crab apple, I was more than thrilled to have Blue Strange's Farewell To The Boys slide across my desk this week because it managed to put me in a good mood. There's a bluntness at work that makes this album honest and while sometimes harsh, it's trustworthy. These guy combine indie rock with blues to deliver an ideal mix of roots-y and modern.
Adhering to the rules of blues that have been carved in stone, you get guitar solos and base lines that are pointed and full of attitude. They have no problem digging into soil for some of these songs. Some of the songs felt a little too out of the box for me. A good example of this would be track two, "Ladner." I understand they want to capture that small town sound, but it didn't always sit well as it seemed like the small town motif was at odds with the modern treatment of the vocals and the overall production on the album. The big winning songs are the ones that find that enchanting balance between all the genres on the table.
The vocal performances and lyrics are key part of what sold this album for me. Again, when dealing with blues, your narrative can be broad or direct, but it has to be explored into the darkest depths. In this regard, Blue Strange excels far beyond my expectations. You can dig deep into the layers of the words or take them as they are. Me, I'm a digger, and I found gems in there; I loved it. The vocals are engineered with a decidedly indie touch which worked out so well. These lyrics are best delivered with indie rock nuance.
This album was a studio production done in Vancouver. I get the sense that this album was more tuned to blues than to anything else which I understand. For the most part that treatment worked, however there were certain moments where it didn't. As I mentioned, the vocals were treated very much with the traits of the indie rock scene. When these worlds collided and were in agreement, it was magic. It's a tricky business, and I think for a good portion of the album they were on the right track.
I would say that those looking for more of a blues experience over an indie rock experience will find themselves most at home with Farewell To The Boys. You'll hear some mighty fine guitar laying and their signature top notch lyrics. However I will also go on record to say that this album is a great gateway drug to pull me back into my blues fandom and dive head first back into that genre. I like the combination experimentation here and I know I'm not alone in that sentiment.
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