This week we have an American folk rock band from Denver, Colorado aka The Lumineers. These guys have been around for a quite a while, just like last weeks SOTW. It seems we’re missing out on some great American treasures this side of the pond and the lovely iTunes folks have decided to enlighten our cold and rainy winter days with some cosy yet chilled out music.
This down to earth sounding lot consist of Wesley Shultz on guitar and lead vocals; Jeremiah Fraites on drums, percussion, mandolin and vocals; and Neyla Pekarek on cello, mandolin, piano and vocals; with extra musicians when they go on tour. Their music started to take shape in 2002 when Jeremiah lost his brother to a drugs overdose at the age of 19, but their current line up have been together since 2009, with a demo EP in 2009, and an eponymous EP in 2011 they have just released their debut self titled album and are currently on tour.
Stubborn Love is the second track on the new album and this weeks free song on iTunes.
The lead singer Wesley brings a very folksy husk of a voice that reminds us a bit of Alex Clare; coupled with heartfelt and memorable lyrics reminiscent of Bon Iver, we are drawn into the song. Add to this the instrumental melody at the beginning on the cello and guitar and we have more reminders of their modern contemporaries: Iron and Wine, Ben Howard and a mode balladic version of River City Extension.
The pace of this track and its cinematic quality make it perfect for a soundtrack or a montage scene in a movie. With such soul stirring lyrics it’s no wonder that another track from the album, ‘Ho Hey’, has featured in The Vampire Diaries and was played in the finale of the show Hart of Dixie, with some US national radio DJ’s calling it the best song of 2012.
‘Stubborn love’ however, loses none of the bands artistic vibe and simplicity. The track builds subtly, adding different layers as it goes whether it be instrument or vocal harmony until the sound, volume and tone of the entire song becomes an encompassing anthem of melody.
The Lumineers have a great knack for knowing what works with this song, whether it is tempering their country tones that are weaved throughout, with extra harmony in the vocal and instrumental lines, as can be heard often in the bridge and chorus. Or at certain points having phrases or verses either stripped down bare to the basic elements of accompanying instrumentation or completely a cappella, and then for more impact, suddenly out of the silence, ‘calling out’ – like you would in a concert. Arranging the track this way, I think personally, ensures for the band that your ears and your brain are never bored when trying to subconsciously deconstruct the melody.
The band have insured that they can successfully highlight important aspects of the lyrics that they want to, allowing them to become memorable when probably after a few listens, you are able to notice and pick up on the differences and impact of multi textured sound underneath. This adds to make it more enjoyable to listen to. Variation is the spice of life people! The Lumineers definitely work it to their advantage so that even with the most melodic of their music, you still get that simplistic bouncy, all singing, clap along, around the camp fire vibe, without it turning into a dirge-y melancholy mess.
iTunes have presented us with a free download that we will definitely listen to again, now to go grab the album! We’re going to need a hefty loan from the bank for all this music soon…
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