I was originally going to do two bullet reviews, two weeks ago. Since I've been derelict in my duties, I'm going to add a bonus review. Strap yourself in, here we go.
Samantha Crain - "The Confiscation EP"
Imagine Feist or Yael Naim singing the songs of Neko Case and you'll have a pretty good approximation of the sound for this album. If that description puts you off, don't let it. Give this EP a chance to grow on you and you'll see an up and coming star in the making. A native of Oklahoma this first release shows a maturity well beyond her years. The folk songstress blends age old guitar and rhythm with strong and inventive lyrics. Plus her sounds fits right in with her label mates:
The Avett Brothers - "The Second Gleam"
There is much to be said about the Avett Brothers, but I covered most of it here. This is not necesarily the Avett Brothers album to start out with. "The Second Gleam" follows in the footsteps of "The Gleam" with ballads taking the lead. The first single, "Murder in the City," sets the tone with the lines like "If I get murdered in the city, don't go revenging in my name." The song continues exploring the meaning of life, death, relationships, and what is truly important. The whole EP tackles these themes in a laid back folk/acoustic manner. The Avetts prove that sometimes it is better to leave the rowdy at home and take time to ponder and savor life in all of its glory.
Jars of Clay - "Closer(EP)"
Jars of Clay are back and if this EP is any indication of what is to come, I can't wait for the full album. "Closer" starts off with a pop rock sound that wouldn't sound out of place on the "Good Monsters" album. The ballad "Safe to Land" follows. Its a good song, but it really doesn't break any new ground. After that are two re-recordings "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" and "Flood(New Rain)." I'm already a fan of both songs and "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" manages to capture the beauty of the original with a slightly updated feel. However "Flood(New Rain)" did not work for me. The original version was a breakout hit for Jars and the addition of some vocals and a guitar track just doesn't feel quite right this time around. The EP ends with another ballad "Prisoner of Hope." Again it is a fairly standard sound, but lyrically it captures an unexplainable feeling that makes the song stand out. Jars of Clay have started releasing on their own label, presumably so they can make music on their own terms. After hearing this EP I can't wait to hear what they do next.