Sour Bridges releases LP
Glistening piano keys find themselves skewed by a rollicking guitar’s rhythm in “Scrapyard Boys.” A tension-building drumbeat initiates a pendulous string yearning in “Boot Healer.” The swing of “Tarmac” invites us to join-in with its fierce, confident stomp. If the vocal harmonies that create a heavenly center for the blushing ballad “Do Ya” don’t capture your heart, my gut tells me that the gentle sway of the ascending melody in “You Don’t Know” most definitely will. “Dusty Waters” haunts us with its echoing instrumental elegy in the same way that “If You See Me” uses its wispy waves of vocal virtuosity to hypnotize us as much as a good bluegrass song can. If you weren’t already thinking of doing so, the self-explanatory “Headin’ Out West” will have you itching to chase after that setting sun on the horizon. “Ozona Breakdown” is as simple a tune as they come, but it’s hardly devoid of the majestic substance that “Nothing Between Us” and every other track on this, Sour Bridges’ brand new album Neon Headed Fool, has to offer anyone who gives it a spin this spring.
Neon Headed Fool presents Sour Bridges as classical western storytellers – troubadours, if you will – with an ear for the erudite and contemporary zeal of a white-hot alternative bluegrass scene that is on the verge of breaking into the mainstream at the moment. This isn’t to dismiss the record as the product of a larger movement going on in American music right now; far from it. What Sour Bridges do for us in their latest LP isn’t all that different from what they’ve done in past successes like Catfish Charlie and 2010’s Workin’ On Leavin’, only in this situation they sound so much more relaxed and in their element than they ever did in those releases. “You Don’t Know,” “Scrapyard Boys,” “Ozona Breakdown,” and “If You See Me” come ripping through the silence regardless of tempo or tone and leave a trail of evocative prose in their wake that doesn’t attempt to replicate the emotional emissions of previous cuts. Put simply, this band is being themselves with us lyrically and applying more texture to their music here, making their sound decidedly more physical and engaging than what I had once thought it capable of being.
Stunningly melodic, full of inspired poeticisms and produced with a keen attention to even the subtlest of details (many of which are often ignored by bands of a similar stylistic persuasion),
you really can’t go wrong with Neon Headed Fool, which I would even go as far as to dub the most endearing record that this group has released in their career together.
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Sour Bridges aren’t working with an enormous, major label-sized budget here, but they’re nevertheless dispensing a supremely urbane set of songs that, in my opinion, are a cut above virtually anything that I’ve heard on the mainstream side of the dial as of late. It’s a solid record without question, and one that doesn’t demand a lot from listeners in exchange for a wealth of mighty melodies.