Louise Bichan (fiddle/vocals), Ethan Hawkins (guitar/vocals), Casey Murray (cello/clawhammer banjo/vocals) and Ethan Setiawan (mandolin/mandola/vocals) are Corner House. I really like their name. It was my first thought and I don’t know why. As I started listening to their music from their EP I was thinking I really like their music but know some of the reasons why.
The band mixes organic instrumentation and traditionally influenced music. You can hear elements of bluegrass, Appalachian stringband, Irish influenced music and more. It’s warm, beautiful and earthly and feels like it comes straight from the soul.
They start with “Slip Jigs” which is an energy infused instrumental song. On this song they certain flex their technical and creative muscles. They also manage to do this while creating some vibrant music that is joyful, celebratory and even has a hint of melancholy if you listen with the right ears. I really liked this song but it was the highlight “Happy Now” which brought my appreciation for the band to a different level.
“Happy Now” starts fairly stripped back with a distinct kind of singer/songwriter vibe. The melancholy is warm but a slight rise with additional strings and a slight change in the vocal melody provides the solace. There is just an undeniable human element that feels real and relatable. They delicately dance upon patterns of energy that we tend to call emotion and you see there isn’t as much division as you thought.
Up next is “Smart Folks” which displays disciplined playing and technical acumen. The timing and ability to play off each other so well was impressive. “You're Great” starts off beautifully somber and also contains some fantastic vocal harmonies. They displayed on “Happy Now” how seamlessly they can transition (from emotions like joy and sadness) and they do that again on “You’re Great.”
They close with “Through the Snow Covered Pines” which is a bit of a slow burn. It starts with banjo and builds with more instrumentation. The addition of the other instruments is quite beautiful as the band blends Celtic music as well as bluegrass and eventually erupts into the most joyous swing on the EP.
I was looking at the picture of the band on their website. They are a very young band in terms of their age and I love the fact that a younger generation are keeping music like this alive and doing it so well. This is a great EP and I hope this is just the beginning for them. Take a listen.
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