Interesting band name – interesting title – interesting sound. Grandma Strange has created an interesting, folk-inspired album with their debut Highway Choir, with a collection of songs that have the character of strong, compelling vocals mixed with creative and catchy melodies and a steady percussive element that keeps everything on track.
Brooke Austin showcases her powerful, thick voice in “One Afternoon,” an acoustic folksy song that focuses on the vocals and guitar. There’s a lot of range in this song, both from a vocal perspective as well as from the chords confidently strummed on the guitar. The severity of certain notes makes this song sound almost like a haunting warning.
“Highway Choir,” the title song, could well be on the opposite end of the spectrum. The drums really give this song a different sense of pace and shift the focus from just one or two of the instruments to the whole thing at once, while the bass colors the background and fleshes out the atmosphere. There’s a good deal going on in this layered song that sways from snappy and energetic to slow and meandering with little to no warning or transition.
“Sunday’s Wolves” mixes the heaviness of the message in “One Afternoon” with the energy of “Highway Choir.” This song has quite a bit of soul, and the rock comes out a little more with sharp electric riffs taking over the acoustic sounds, and the bass becomes even more prominent. It was a bit slow on the pickup but once the meat began to develop it really took off and was a lot of fun to listen to.
“Solitary” takes back the folk sound but gives it an exotic twist. Every instrument sounds different, as though everyone is playing their part still but with a variant of the typical guitar and drums. I can’t quite identify what is being played, but it sounds fantastic. I thought “Sunday’s Wolves” was going to be my favorite listen on the album but that was before I heard this one – this song hypnotized me (despite the randomly crashing cymbals – consider yourself warned).
This is the sort of eclectic album that I wouldn’t typically listen to as a course of my everyday collection, as it is the type of sound you’d have to be aware of and go hunting for; however, I’m glad I had a chance to check it out. I really liked the clear collective and collaborative effort here. I usually listen to more fast-paced, hard hitting music, but this offered a nice reprieve from that and was a genuinely interesting album to listen to.
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