“Dark Days” begins with soft-spoken vocals that urge an upward volume adjustment. Later, the appeal of the song prompts a second upward adjustment. More importantly, “Dark Days” is constructed to withstand the test of time, since the song’s powerful foundation supports less apparent features that are discoverable with repeated listening. For example, early in the song, shortly after the lyrics state, “Forgive me for what I have done,” a church-ready organ joins the rhythmic guitar and the description of being “saved” (from my dark days).
The song from Huw & The Greater Good is not a religious revelation. But “Dark Days” is Soulful and somewhat confessional. Among their influences, the band lists Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. “Dark Days” does reflect that influence; still, it is more aligned with the powerfully presented self-realization of “S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.
Huw & The Greater Good are based in Leeds, although the members are from various areas of the UK. They are Huw Edward Thomas (vocals, guitar), Mak Dawson (bass), Callum Stubbs (drums), Luke Marley (keys), and Sam Jarps (guitar). Quoting content from the band’s bio:
Songs of self-discovery triumph and heartache inspire audiences to throw down their inhibitions like never before. They deliver – live and on record - nonstop, heart-on-sleeve, electric moments. Huw & the Greater Good are a band fast gaining momentum as one of the UKs most exciting acts and have only just begun. With a debut EP due for release in Spring 2020 and a further set of headline dates to be announced, the next 24 months are set to be huge – all for the Greater Good.
Their music has a beautifully full texture and the voices of Big Little Lions seem specifically tailored for each other. While both are pleasing, the female voice has a smoother, softer feel. But it’s the difference between the two that set Big Little Lions above other skillful harmonization pairings. The voices belong to Paul Otten and Helen Austin.
In their song "Here We Go Again,” the instruments are many and varied. For the first minute, the drums are forceful and the guitar delicate. Then, the sound of a banjo enters, along with hand claps. The song, which is from the upcoming album “Inside Voice,” never stays in one place long enough to release the attention of the listener. And the lyrics are intelligently crafted. The song is about continuing on, as best conveyed by the two sentences:
Little by little, bit by bit,
that’s how you eat an elephant.
I’m gonna need to rest,
but I won’t quit… building my pyramid.
Big Little Lions are comprised of the songwriting duo of Paul Otten and Helen Austin. They identify their “hometown” as Comox Valley (Canada) and Cincinnati, Ohio (U.S.). Quoting a description of their soon-to-be-released sixth album:
"Big Little Lions return with their latest album 'Inside Voice' (Oct 4th, 2019). The award winning band from Cincinnati, OH and British Columbia, Canada have been described as ‘a blissful marriage of new folk and sophisticated pop’. 'Inside Voice' is a new collection of infectious folk pop songs that are jam-packed with emotion and tight harmonies that sound like the product of two people working side-by-side instead of living in different countries. The album digs deeper than their previous work, taking on topics around mental health but in a way that leaves the listener feeling optimistic."
“To You, For Her” from Jordan Lindley characterizes music in the mid-1960s. At the start of a four-year period, the Folk revival was a force. The revival was driven by songwriters such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and by groups such as The Kingston Trio. Electric guitars were accepted (perhaps tolerated), but were not featured. Then, Dylan and two members of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band brought electric guitars onto the stage at the 1965 Newport Fold Festival, and the change was underway. It certainly wasn’t immediate and "old-school Folk” never died, but Rock became a major influence for musicians who otherwise would have been destined for traditional Folk.
At the start of the Jordan Lindley single, the focal point is on the vocals, as the relationship with a promising new love interest is described and compared to the current relationship. Electric guitar is important, but is assigned a lesser role and is limited to “clean” play without the playing techniques and sound processing that characterize Rock. That changes a little more than two minutes into “To You, For Her.” By the 2:34 mark, the guitar has broken the chains.
In talking about the song, Lindley explains, "'To You, For Her' was the last song that I wrote for this upcoming EP. It was written in one of those in-between-phases where you’re not so sure about a new relationship because you’re still caught up in the last one. Anytime I felt that my new flame was getting closer and falling harder, I felt scared and pulled away. My struggle has always been letting things happen; going with the flow; relinquishing control. Simply put, this song is not only a statement to my new partner, but to myself: that I will try it. I will try to let myself go with it, because right now it is good. It made sense for this to be the lead single because it is a declaration that I constantly make to myself now – just try it."
The EP, “Look Back,” will be released this Fall. Jordan Lindley was born in Oklahoma City, but moved to Nashville, Tennessee to attend Belmont University. Coincidentally, this is the second post this week in which a Belmont alum is featured (the first was RAEYA).