I think the initial sound of this album is very telling; one of those works that owes some gratitude to whoever was behind the track order. I’ve played the first 50 seconds of the opening track from Sometimes We Just Stare at Maps by Eagle Owls at least five times already. This is how you prime, ladies and gentlemen, if you hook your listener right from the start it takes a lot to lose them.
I’ll even add that I wanted that passage to keep going, to build a little more. But what I got was the entrance of a unique male vocal, husky and tender with the nuance of Scotland waving from his tongue. “Live Like Gypsies” is the bread winner for me and I couldn’t think of better execution. It establishes a firm progression without clutter and hits us all with the sure bet of repetition. Try not to be swept away into the fjords as this track wisps about your mind. Throughout the album, there’s a slight tinge that echoes Son Volt especially in the vocal and the way it slides about the melody, accents harmony, and dips into lower register like a near monotone requiem. Best examples of this can be found on “Don’t Forget The View” and “What You Are.”
Further along the record, “Move To Italy” pumps a little more pep into the mix and the drums have a little romp if only for a little while as the track is just shy of a minute and a half. “Saturate” is also one of the more brief cuts and sways lazily with the acoustic, but bites with the flaring vocal right at song’s end.
“Maps” is more involved and incorporates lush instrumentation with yearning vocals and washing cymbals. It’s possibly the most dramatic part of the album and perfectly illustrates with powerful delivery the title’s intent – “Sometimes we just stare at maps.” What a statement.
I’ve been very impressed with acts from the UK, mostly in the last five years. The trend is leaning heavily toward singer/songwriter when it comes to pop with substance and I’m quite thankful for that, as I’m sure is Eagle Owls. With the ushering in of Ed Sheeran, Hozier, and the like, we can expect to see more prevalence in Eagle Owls at least from an American appreciators point of view.
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