I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know this record well over the past few days. We’ve taken a road trip, gathered over coffee, cleaned the apartment and such. Even though we hit it off from first meeting we’ve only become closer since. It’s that type of record; one so cuttingly personal to those who wrote it and yet so sincere and expansive in human emotion that a complete stranger can quickly feel comfortable and right in the middle of all of it.
When I mention to people that there’s a damned good new album coming out July 20th that they should check out I am consistently asked what it sounds like. Well, it sounds like a number of things. What it is not is one or two particular labels. Throughout These United States’ latest effort What Lasts lie afterthoughts of alt country and roots, indie rock, blues, even touches of something almost southern rock pulled from Americana. The band grazes across a field of genres and influences like running through a corn field in search of the opening. Though naturally affected by the path and the stalks, they have ultimately created their own outcome.
Singer/songwriter Jesse Elliott opens wide the album and himself right from the first track. “Nobody Can Tell” plays through Elliott’s true to life near drowning and subsequent rescue. The song, sonically and poetically, covers the understandable helplessness of the event yet closes in a way that almost portrays a gratitude to the water for making him appreciate a warm sun and a deep breath.
From “Dug Him In The Dirt” and forward the band toys with rhythms and presentations that add light to dark and overcast to the few breaks in the clouds. Keys and lap steel add layers of mood to Elliott’s easy vocal inflection. Recently released single, “The Great Rivers” puts the steel up front in a catchy 2 ½ minute pick up embedded with a chorus listeners will be singing long after the song ends. It’s songs like these that never let one fall too far in an album lush with downtempo tunes.
All in all What Lasts puts on display the skills and characteristics of a super tight band of talented musicians and songwriters. It’s an album fresh and new as a whole that at the same time harkens back to a time when story songs were much more engaging. Standout tracks include: “Nobody Can Tell,” “The Great Rivers,” “Life&Death She&I,” and album ending rocker “Water & Wheat.” What Lasts is out today, July 20th on United Interests.
For more info on These United States including tour dates visit their official website or MySpace page.
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