In their previous two albums Edinburgh-based duo Blueflint received plaudits for their unique form of Edinburgh bluegrass. Stories From Home sees the band develop their sound to incorporate elements of alt-folk and indie pop. The combination is truly special. One minute the album is reminiscent of Emma Pollock and the next Laura Cantrell. Appropriately enough, it is an album that constantly returns to the theme of reconciling yourself to a changing identity – be it the changing identity caused by falling in or out of love or by growing up.
The album opens with King of My Apple Tree. The song begins with the twang of a banjo solo that soon makes way for the duo’s characteristic Scottish lilt singing an understated tale of a relationship’s end. The lines “I loved you then/ King of my apple tree/ I could not be without you then/ we’re just servants to it all” perfectly capture the air of fatalistic despondency that accompanies romantic regret.
I Could Have Tried a Little More explores similar lyrical terrain – looking back with regret at an old relationship. Musically, though, it is very different. The sound is reminiscent less of Nashville and more of Glasgow indie bands like Belle and Sebastian, The Delgados or Zoey Van Goey.
What if I don’t want to sees Blueflint return to their Americana roots. A banjo solo begins the song before being joined by bluegrass fiddle and then ending up in a raucous American hoedown. Again the lyrics reference coming to terms with a changing identity “I should forget all that I am/ What if I don’t want to/ What if I don’t want to?/ That I should betray what makes me who I am/ What if I don’t want to?” The mixture of frantic bluegrass and gentle Scottish vocals may remind some listeners of King Creosote’s first band The Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra.
Secrets of Your Life is a perfect example of both the band’s new indie Americana and the album’s theme of identity. A gentle indie lament is accompanied by haunting Americana banjo and fiddle. The theme of morphing identity is again to the fore. The song charts an intense introspection following the discovery of a lover’s infidelity. “All the secrets of your world laid upon/ All the stuff of your life laid bare/ As you stand on the cusp of a brave new morning/ You’re still there.”
It is the indie power pop This is a Story that is the album’s highlight (see video below). Jangling guitars are accompanied by beautiful vocal harmonies. Again, the lyrics look at changing identities: “This is a story, a story about life/ I did not understand it until I found you.” The song is also the album’s first single and it would not be at all surprising if it were to help Blueflint find a wider audience.
Review by: Alfred Archer
Out Now via Johnny Rock Records
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