album review by
Tony Floyd Kenna.
‘It’s always better when you can hold it in your hands and put it in your car CD player. The artwork is beautiful, too (Thanks, Laura) ….’ so says Dan Sheron of Balto, and I have to agree. When I opened the package that Dan sent me, touched and drank the artwork with my eyes, I felt calm, smiled and felt I already knew the music. When I actually played the CD I was not disappointed, my expectations were wonderfully and happily fulfilled.
An indie-folk/Americana band based in Portland, Oregon. Led by Daniel Sheron, the group first coalesced during the recording of their first LP October’s Road, which occurred on a single, cold day in December. Monuments followed and was released in September 2012. After touring the east and west coasts in 2013, work progresses …..
This album comprises six beautifully crafted tracks, interestingly all the titles are single words: Smokestacks, Gravestones, Airplanes, Cavalry, Doves, Monuments… evocations of a clear and accessible soundscape, full of imagery and three dimensional feelings.
Monuments was tracked live in an old, repurposed church near Woodstock, NY during 3 days in June, 2012. ‘We hung big marching drums from the ceiling, stayed awake day and night and half of us got salmonella poisoning, and we’re delighted at what happened…’
‘These are deliberate songs, introspective songs, songs that live in the Technicolor dream of memory. Boats in a bottle-green sea, fire up on a dusty red shoreline, a young man with one foot on the bow, sailing out, sailing back, self-immolating on the endless road between the existant and the ideal…’
I usually like to pick a couple of favourite tracks when reviewing an album but that’s near impossible here, I think they are all my favourites.
The title track Monuments creates a wonderful image of exploring and experiencing life
‘My friends and I were sailing down
To find out what the world’s about…’
The mix on this album is itself worthy of special mention, producer/engineer Jeremy Backofen has created a space where both vocals and instruments can be upfront, a musical canvas of such clarity and sonic pleasure that it should be a benchmark for others to aspire to. A thankful departure from the often modern trend of compressing the hell out of everything and turning out a linear assault on the ears. Of course Daniel and the band had clearly laid down a groove of thoughtful uncluttered arrangements, expertly played and soulfully sung. A marriage made in Heaven.
‘Gravestones’ track two, is a really catchy song that draws you right into the story, opening with tasteful guitar playing and gradually layers up ‘and then I fell down on knees..’
On track three Dan sings ‘As a child I looked at airplanes, learned all their technical names, I never could guess what they do. I spent my youth waiting in airports, convinced of a purpose…’
Tony Floyd Kenna.
Category: CD Reviews