Old Friend Sun refers to themselves as a “freaky folk trio” from Tampere, Finland. The word freaky is a perfect way to describe the kind of twist they put on the folk genre for their second album Vehkoja. I made it a point to listen to their first album Odd Times which was definitely more on the traditional side of folk and didn’t do a lot for me. Vehkoja is notably more experimental, and just downright fun. They pull from different veins of folk music and then tie it together with a firm alternative sound.
Getting things started was track one “Vehkoja” which is so damn pretty. Delicate riffs combined with whispering vocals, it made me want to crawl back into bed and never leave. However, I was not at liberty to stay in my comfy cocoon for long, because “Too Long” cuts into that first track’s ending like a battle axe. This song is gruff, the vocals are awake now and the drums are heart pounding and tribal. At first, I wasn’t sure if I liked this transition from sleepy comfy happy time to a heavier vibe. In the end, I was won over completely.
My favorite track on this album is “Train Woman.” This song finds the exact middle of the road between folk and alternative. The guitar is really beautiful and the drums are distinctive from anything else on the album. This one really had me tempted to dance, which is impressive, considering how early in the morning I’m writing this review. Sealing the deal of putting a smile on my face was that the story packed lyrics. It’s no surprise to me that this song garnered a good amount of buzz on different digital venues including Spotify.
The last two tracks on the album were the weakest. “In this House of Mine” was slower and more somber and took a more traditional route. It’s a pretty song but it didn’t have the same freakiness I had come to expect. The final track livens it up by going back to the great percussion element, however, once again, that special oomph was missing. Both of these songs are by no means bad. They’re well done, but by now I had been spoiled with surprises and twists.
Production was clearly custom tailored to fit each track and honestly, I don’t think there was any way around that. Every track stands on its own thanks to custom touches applied to them. The band gave us a glimpse of their process in their submission where they stated, “We gave the songs what they needed. Sometimes it meant recording a grand piano with three mics or a phone recording of a vocal part in a bathroom.”
I really appreciate where Old Friend Sun is at right now. They have made a huge evolutionary leap from their first album and the experiments they did were completely worth it. I hope they keep the freaky in their work because it made this album so fresh and irresistible. Anyone with interests in either the folk or alternative scenes could come to adore this album as much as I did.
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