England - Full Moon 203 - 03/27/13
Tales From Terra Firma
4AD / Playground
Tales From Terra Firma is the follow-up (as the cliché goes; 'the difficult second album') to the brilliant Beachcomber's
Windowsill. After hearing the first song to promote the album, "Knock Me On The Head", I was pretty sure they were ready to deliver
another album of delicate pop of high quality.
The charming quartet still count main songwriter (he's written all tracks but "Knock Me...", by Ouin, and he's co-written "Farewell Appalachia" with Ouin) Brian
Briggs (vocals, guitar), Ollie Steadman (bass), Rob Steadman (drums), and Jonathan Ouin (keyboards, guitar, banjo, etc.). They seem (sound) to be a bunch of shy, thin-wristed
and easily broken-hearted (or breakers of hearts) lads performing folk-influenced pop with style and grandeur. Tales From... holds 9 tracks, and there's quite a
variation, or a wide spectre of expression throughout the album. Fabulously neat orchestration with brass and woodwind, Harpsichord and Dulcimer. Check out the Dulcimer
tinged quiet beauty "Farewell Appalachia" - probably spiced with an Appalachian dulcimer (or 'mountain dulcimer', as it's called, coming from the Appalachian region in
the US). Their line of songs shines like a pearl necklace. From the aforementioned "Farewell Appalachia", through the powerful "Hook, Line, Sinker", to the closing "November
Song" which is a pure folk song.
Tales From Terra Firma opens with "You Tame Me As I Am", and put things in the right place from the very start. All the way throughout the album they stand
out as a smart pop band, like XTC were in their time. Not that they can be compared musically, only in musical smartness. One might say that the album is somewhat nice
and safe, polite and polished. Well, that's just me being picky, because this LP is a pop feast, a celebration, and simply delightful. Tales From Terra Firma is
a collection of nine excellent stories from the 'solid earth'.
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen