Last Year Chris Strand released an EP entitled Roots, which featured his guitar and vocals. A little more than a year later he is back with Settle Down, which not only has much more instrumentation but is also a vast improvement in terms of production. I enjoyed the sparse skelton-like songs on Roots but the addition of instruments like drums, violin, trombone, cello, mandolin and saxophone to name a few added layers of energy and emotion that just weren't possible before. The songs here are thick with instrumentation but Strand never loses focus and realizes that behind everything you still have to have a good song. Strand delivers and doesn’t disappoint when it comes to song quality on this ten-track album.
The album opens with “Snow In South Brooklyn,” which is a song that makes you feel warm. I think it was a combination of the title and the fact that he mentions coffee and the acoustic instrumentation that sounds inviting. The song starts off with a sole guitar and as it progresses more instrumentation tastefully gets added. “Morning Birds Call” is a flat out beautiful tune that spews with emotion (mostly melancholy). The overlapping guitar parts were great but the shaker and violin was the cherry on top. “I Would Sell My Lungs” is the closest that Strand gets to rock on the album. It’s a nice change of pace but I have to admit it was a bit jarring when I heard him say “fucking.”
One of the highlights on the album is “Hemingway Blues,” which also makes you realize how good of a guitarist Strand is. That technically impressive opening guitar riff against the orchestral string is so on point. In fact the song just gets better as it progresses. Make sure not to skip this one. “Once Was Enough” is an upbeat song that might give you pep in your step but don't get too excited because the next song “Freezing In The Rain” is the most somber on the album.
Strand closes with the horn heavy “Yellow Rose of Austin,” which feels loose but emotional. He delivers one of his best vocal performances and effectively closes the album.
Strand made some leaps and bounds from his last recording. There are a lot good things happening on this record.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook