This is like the fourth band in the last month that lists the dobro among its musical arsenal. It must be part of an up and coming contemporary sound.
Lucas Paine was born in North Carolina, raised in Alaska, and with the Cutting List, recorded Chasing Winter in an abandoned university outside Melbourne, Australia. Recorded in one night, the EP is only four tracks long, but none are under five minutes. Each takes its time to stretch out and breath into you. As for the title, let's just say it's finely appropriate.
The beginning strums on the opener "Sally Away" are desolate and cold, and immediately call to mind images of snow. The way the composition builds up into the volatile flurry of fiddle, banjo and guitar in the middle and the end of the track, only to melt away into more peaceful string arrangements is a brilliant move, and shows the acoustic punch Paine is capable of.
Paine's voice works well with this music, an earthen croon that sounds neither self-pitying nor entirely optimistic, even as he sings lines like "I am going to see my baby tonight / Won't see no spirits, won't see no ghosts." This is from the second track, "Can't Sing No Darkness," far more calm and diligent, with lighter chord changes and a preeminent banjo molding the mood with its mostly singular notes. If I consider "Dark and Leaf Coloured" the weakest track on the EP, it's only because it feels like Paine isn't trying anything new, though it does demonstrate his musical ear for vocal harmonies.
Even if "Dark and Leaf Coloured" is a misstep, Paine picks himself up and dusts himself off in the much faster tempos of "Misty Mountain Tryst." The simple but urgent chords create a musical atmosphere just this side of punk, but Paine knows when to reel in the emotion; the quiet chorus is an excellent counterpoint to the acoustic pummel the song otherwise presents. Paine's guitar playing is front and center, and the anger behind the playing hits like a ball of warmth on a cold night.
Chasing Winter is a raw slice of folk that is still approachable despite the melancholy subject matter (but hey, if it were happy and about doing molly, it wouldn't be folk, right?). The first and final tracks exhibit Paine's best ideas, using acoustic instruments with quiet-loud compositions. I wouldn't say this EP does anything new; the severe moments throughout "Misty Mountain Tryst" alone make this worth checking out. I'd completely support an album's worth of material that continues in that song's vein.
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