by Kyle Taylor |
Every once in a while, a musician or band comes along with a unique enough vision to breathe some new life into folk music. This seems to be the intended mission of the new debut album Islands from UK group Bear’s Den.
The record settles into a heavily modernized sound, while still maintaining plenty of loyalty to the folk genre’s origins. Through its compositions, Islands takes a very calculated approach. Slow guitar and banjo melodies carry themselves over magnificent crescendos that will take your body from swaying, to your foot tapping, to a total cascade of blissful energy.
Yet, throughout the album’s ten tracks, those same compositions successfully find footing in plenty of new territory, rarely retracing its steps. While there’s an unmistakable pop characteristic embedded in the record, any obnoxious flaunting of that aspect is subdued.
The opening track, “Agape” sparks with a flickering banjo strum that’s at first a bit alarming, but the grazing melodies that follow are quick to suppress any worry of a hopelessly all too familiar album. In this way, the track is the perfect opener for an album that is instead just familiar enough, but still plenty distinguished.
Led by guitarist and vocalist Andrew Davie, the album deals with the various troubles of a growing adult. Each member of Bear’s Den lends a heavy contribution to every track, often formulating haunting vocal harmonies.
The group will be performing at Underground Arts in Philadelphia this Saturday (Oct. 25th). Bear’s Den will be accompanied by opening support from Dan Magan + Blacksmith and Christof. While the venue typically hosts 21+ events, Saturday’s show will be an all ages event.