Following on from last year’s ‘Blue’, this is the second in the Echo Bloom’s three colours trilogy, described by frontman Kyle Evans as ‘country/shoegaze’ with the songs telling stories and painting pictures in black and white. Largely recorded live, unlike its horns and strings-soaked predecessor this is very much a band affair, again featuring Aviva Jaye on keys and Shareef Taher on drums, but here with Steve Sasso adding banjo to his background tenor vocals and Josh Grove switching to guitar and new arrival Jason Mattis taking over on bass. Jeffrey Young also contributes some effective violin alongside Emily Price’s cello, especially on the ruminative instrumental Cynthia’s Song.
Although it opens in ringing guitar form with the country rock Leaving Charleston (a song about two young lovers heading west in search of a better life), it’s also a moodier, more atmospheric collection, at times sounding decidedly spooked, notably so on the whisperingly sung Willingham, the disturbing true story of Cameron Todd Willingham who was, it increasingly appears, wrongly executed by lethal injection for allegedly murdering his three daughters by setting fire to the house.
As far as I can tell, none of the other narrative numbers are based on specific facts, but they have the grip of compelling fiction. Set to a strummed guitar and with definite touches of Townes and Kristofferson, The Texas Two is a particular standout as it recounts a Bonnie & Clyde like tale of two lovers who met in juvie, while the skittering, itchy rhythms and furtive vocals of the bluesy rock Revenge unfold the murder of a child molester and six minute uptempo rocker The Businessman seems to be about the breakdown and suicide of the supervisor of Washington government building who can no longer face the repetitive tedium and urban collapse around him.
Elsewhere matters of the heart hold sway. The hushed and breathy Operator (reprised in a jogging country vein as the final track) plays out like a regulation need to talk to my baby number until the final verse reveals this really is a father not a lover and a ragged Evangeline finds the protagonist reflecting on how he’s been worn down by life and never made good on the promises to his wife. Things are slightly more optimistic with In Orbit and its romantic image of a sitting in a ferris wheel, seeing the city lit up like a Christmas tree and of holding on to love, though arguably the album’s best and most positive number is the countrified fiddle laced, pedal steel driven starting over Another Rose Will Bloom For You. Despite the associations of the title, there’s no danger if disappointment here.
Review by: Mike Davies
Out Now via Songs & Whispers
Order it here: songsandwhispers.bandcamp.com/album/red-2