Is goth folk a thing? It should be, in fact, it most certainly is now because White Robot has given me this one of a kind album called The Belligerent North Star. This is a dark and brooding collection of songs laced with old world folk charm and the result is unforgettable. Grab your jug of moonshine and be prepared to drink yourself into a stupor of righteous misery.
First things first, I need to address Amanda Joy who brings a soulful, undeniably cool voice to the album. She can be guttural, coy, and even soft and demure. You pair this fabulous voice with the beautiful work of Asher Cochláin’s guitar and you have a winning combo. Some of the songs are fire-y and rhythmic, others are slow building dramas. There is probably more slow than spunky stuff, part of me wishes that the ratio was different. The music sort of absorbs into everything around you. When listened to at a nice loud volume, you can’t escape the black hole, I have a feeling they would take that as a compliment. The music is thick and sometimes unsettling, which I think is certainly intended.
The lyrics are also their own wonder. There are so many excellent tales being told. Not everything is explicitly literal, but they still manage to nail an accessible meaning. The guitar and the vocals seem to almost have a conversation. I think there is also a healthy amount of the artists letting the music do the talking at times. The guitar is as versatile as Joy’s vocals and is given plenty of room to breathe and validate her words.
There are some choice fun factoids about this group and this album that tickled me. One, this album was recorded in two separate states. Joy is in Florida and Cochláin is in the state of Washington making this album bi-coastal. Here’s where it gets super fun, these two have NEVER met! Cherry on top? This album didn’t have any studio hands involved, it was purely a DIY project. Considering all these factoids, this album is incredibly cool and a testament to what can be done without a massive budget.
The whole no meeting thing truly blows me away. There’s chemistry here, an understanding of one another that one would expect from face to face interaction. Not only is this album breaking genre rules, it’s proving a serious point about the capabilities of today’s technology.
The Belligerent North Star is special in its bold decision to take folk somewhere dark. I have never heard anything like it and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I genuinely enjoyed it. The individual tracks are all lovely but when all put together it just makes such a great listen. I was able to slow down and smell the black, dreary roses and it’s great. I’m not sure if I ever want these two to meet. What if the chemistry is thrown off? I actually doubt that, I think they’d be even better in the presence of one another. I could see an amazing live performance taking place. Congrats to these guys on this very cool album.
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