Mythmakers are an alt-country/folk/rock band from Nashville, TN. If you had a nickel for every time, right? I said the same thing to myself before I sat down to give the self-titled debut album Mythmakers a listen, but Justin Bailey and his band mates have created an album that feels fresh within the boundaries of the genre.
This can be attributed mostly to the strength of Bailey's songwriting, which features lyrics that are thoughtfully phrased and delivered through attractive vocal melodies. His voice is something like a mix between Ryan Adams, Brandon Summers, Damien Rice and John Mayer with certain songs illuminating those elements in different ways. The lyrics touch on themes such as heartbreak, how to cope with lose, feeling out your place within your surroundings, traveling and the always evolving understanding of personal autonomy.
He likes to rhyme consecutive lines, sometimes as many as four or five in a row, which effectively holds the listeners’ attention and hooks them line after line. Speaking of hooks, its memorable choruses, as well as the engaging transitions between sections, really help to lift this LP off the ground initially.
"I'm Walking Through Walls" is a fitting example of this. While the section that bookends the song sounds influenced by the Avett Brothers, the vibe of its verses and chorus actually remind me of The National--yet, all three sections make complete sense together. The acoustic guitar picking over the kick drum calls to mind "Daughters of the Soho Riots.” Its chorus chugs forwards while guitars fuzz out and pretty trumpet lines ring as Bailey repeats, "I'm walking through walls;" I can totally imagine Berninger's lackadaisical baritone delivery right here. The female backing vocals are a nice touch, too.
Then there's "Your Eyes," which comes out of left field with its electronic drum kit, rattling bass and sparse guitars layered over top. It's blatantly unique within this batch of songs without managing to undercut a sense of cohesion. Bailey understands this balance well: to create songs in a way that isn't narrowly formulaic, yet fits naturally within the big (album) picture.
My personal favorite on Mythmakers is the following track, "By the Edge of the Lake." I've spoken of how the essence of Bailey's songwriting (lyrics and basic melody) is what makes this record stand strong, but the sounds and textures that the whole band contributes creates captivating atmospheres and moods. The chilled out drum beat starts and this focal pointed acoustic guitar riff (bleh-nep!) surrounds itself with wispy guitars.
The drums pause perfectly as vocals reverberate and this riff clearly shows its face. It instantly gives this track so much personality: anxious and desperate. Bailey infectiously sings in the chorus, "If you give light the darkness for faith/ life will change but stay the same/ So I will stand by the edge of the lake/ And kneel to the first breath of day."
The album doesn't end quite as strong as it begins, but it has already won me over by the time "Edge of the Lake" has passed. I'm definitely looking forward to giving this album some spins as I move into the winter months. Mythmakers have a good thing going here—I’d suggest checking it out.
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