Monday, 1 October 2018

The Black Lillies – Stranger to Me, album review


Just ahead of National Poetry Day here in the UK and its theme of 'Change', The Black Lillies' latest album reflects what has and hasn't - for the former, the band is noticeably without vocalist Trish Gene Brady who was/is a fine singer, and for the latter the band has retained its touchstone of countrified and excellent musicality, not least exemplified in a mix of rock roots and west coast sensibilities.

I first came across the band with the debut album Whiskey Angel and have been a fan ever since [see previous reviews here]. Other reviews of this latest out there have invoked a range of those west coast influences, but I think it suffices to say the vocal harmonies are sublime, and never cloying.

What we have on this album is the basics of sweet songwriting and tight performance - and those harmonies holding it all together. And when I use an adjective like 'sweet' this isn't about being syrupy - it is also the spot where a rootsier sound and pace is nonetheless honeyed in its tastiness.

Stepping outside the metaphoric, songs like Weighting deliver that pace refined by the harmony vocal one can't avoid mentioning, and following ballad Out of the Blue is as plaintively fetching as musical history's preceding lineage which clearly influences, thankfully. Don't Be Afraid and River Rolls posit those Country roots that have also always been a welcome feature of the band's sound. Earthquake is a vocal ensemble gem.

This is by and large pretty music. Always loved such and always will.

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