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Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Roots and Bells", Town Hall keeps their promise

Roots and Bells- Town Hall

Bloodbuzzed friends' Town Hall are presenting their first album, "Roots and Bells" tomorrow, and this blog has been lucky to hear the full LP well in advance, courtesy of the band. I can guarantee you the NYC trio has met all the expectations. "Roots and Bells" is a very strong debut, with several moments of genuine beauty and with an ambitious scope, pointing the band towards several directions, very far from the traditional, and somewhat limited, indie-folk range.  

"Roots and Bells" opens with "Mary A. Longden" and "Swim Team". For the ones that have followed Town Hall's career, the start might be unsurprising, as first tune was already included on the extremely recommendable "Sticky Notes & Paper Scraps" EP, and the second was the first song premiered of the forthcoming album. But what a couple of fantastic songs they are, announcing all the wonders of Town Hall's sound: warm harmonies, intricate melodies with delicate and gentle additional instrumentation (flutes, violins, violas, cellos) and a precious sense of closeness with the listener (I bet seeing their live has to be a great experience).

"Fix this House" and single "Good Boy", that this blog already premiered, shows the different sides of the band. The mellow indie-folk of the first tune has little to do with the crispier, tense sound, more in the vein of a 90s alternative-pop of the second. It might be among the ones that prefer their more melodic side, but "Good Boy" announces a band with a more diverse musical aspirations, and its a refreshing counterpoint within the record.

"Small" is a gorgeous gem with Phoebe Ryan's voice breaking hearts, that right now might be among my favourites (love its constrained crescendo and beating tempo) while "Rockefeller" serves as the second example of the aforementioned ambition of the band, with their many changes of direction/music background.

Also included on the previous EP "Alright" and "Charlie" open the second half of the record, aligning themselves with the warm closeness of "Small". On the contrary, "The Strongest of Hands" upbeats the tempo  of the album, and should be considered as potential single, in my opinion. The cheerful vibe suits the childish voice of Phoebe Ryan creating a superb, joyful dose of folk-pop.

The trio of final tunes of the album has already known "Just Watching My Breath" as the standout track, with their vibrant, emotional peak at the end being one of the highlights of their music. "Food" benefits from its beautiful arrangements, while closer "Dahill Road" ends the album with an intimate note, just a delicate piano piece mixed with occasional "urban sounds" and Phoebe's singalong that made me remember The Innocence Mission.

Overall, "Roots and Bells" has plenty to offer. Full of enchanting sweet tunes, slow numbers prevail, but thanks to the wise sequence of the album, including the faster number strategically, it flows as a surprising solid whole. Town Hall are not just a new group to discover. After this album, they are a band to follow. You should run to their bandcamp immediately!

SCORE: 7/10

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