I was eagerly anticipating this record for awhile now. I fell in love with these guys about 9 months ago and every demo song they released via their excellent website made me just that more excited about the finished product. Boy, did they not disappoint. The album is so different lyrically from anything I have ever heard. An entire record about Revolutionary Era America! It's an ex-US History teacher's wet dream. But beyond that, (which on the surface could be boring to the non-History Channel geek) is an album of finely crafted pop songs with a nice mix of Beatles, Byrds and other folksy touches. Here are my thoughts track by track:
"Damrell's Fire" (mp3) launches the record with it's subdued take on the massive fire in Boston.
A tossed on mandolin line in "The Liberator" adds depth to the acoustic blues strut of the song about the influential early Newspaper.
"Save Me, Clara" returns from THE NEW ENGLAND EP with it's achingly plaintive tale of a man of the verge of death.
"Walden and the Willow Tree" (mp3) is an audio painting of Walden Pond (which I have visited and rivals little in it's beaut...at least the part that's not a commercialized public beach).
"Celia's Garden" has a nice little shuffle to it, probably the closest thing to a rock song on the album, that frames the story of Celia Thaxter's garden.
Another song about a painter, "The Ballad of Winslow Homer", is a soft acoustic number that sounds like something Elliot Smith would have recorded.
"Webster Thayer" recounts the role the crooked judge played in the Sacco and Vanzetti Trial (what other band would even try to take that on as a subject let alone write a pop song about it...)
The first of two songs about Boston the town, "Charles Street", a like taking a walking tour of the town with the benefit of a catchy chorus.
"Susan Be" tells the tale of the women's rights acitvist that sonically is a cousin to Save Me, Clara but with a slower cadence. The slow shuffle of the song has now become the signature sound of the record. This is an album for lazy Sunday afternoons.
"Lovely Mary Dyer" could be a lost Byrds song and is a fitting accompanyment to the previous tales of women figures of early American History. Clearly these guys have immersed themself in Howard Zinn's work.
"Abigail, Don't Be Long" is probanly my favorite song on the record. It's chorus is catchy and the title character sums up the album's spirit perfectly. Strong, quiet and a force to be reckoned with.
The last song, "Boston (Tremountaine)" is the second song about the city at the center of the Revolution and cleans up the album in a nice tight bow both musically and lyrically. I might have switched this and Charles Street in order but it's a minor quibble.
This is an album to be owned. Sure, you can buy it digitally but some records require the detail of album art and lyrics to grasp the entire artistic vision. In no uncertain terms, I love this album.