19 January 2015

Black Prairie - Fortune


Till Christmas Eve, I had no idea that Black Prairie existed; but Christmas has changed that as I have been given the album as a present - purely based on the cover. Now I like that, I love that covers can sometimes make you purchase something for a thoroughly new experience.  This purchase done by Mrs Carter, has turned out to be an Americana/Blues grass/Alternative Indie off-shot of The Decembrists, The Woolwines, Jackstraw and Dolorean.  This is their fifth album in five years, so they are being constant in their releases.  The cover (and the rest of their art work) is truly striking, but will this vintage art work be matched with an album of equal quality?

Starting with "The 84", the pounding drums are matched with mandolin and gentle accordion mix in with vocals, but there is a force behind the song; it is a song about the start of a relationship and the possible journey towards anywhere.  The moody opening pitching the Americana experience with a wistful soul searching journey makes it a very effective opening and settles the audience into the correct mood set.  As opening tracks go, I have not heard one as effective for a long while.  “Kiss Of Fate” is the second song on the album, the mood is changed on this number, love seems to be in the air and the drive is replaced by the country fair experience.  The lyrics are another wistful poem to the human experience, it might not reach the highest of “The 84”, but it is still a very effective number.  “Let It Out” on the other hand is full of energy, spirit and an infectious groove that makes the listener want to clap, dance and jump around.  It is one of those numbers that might not seem too exciting, but the performance and passion behind the number transcend the genre and make it something more.  It feels like a barrel of excitement has been unleashed and the listener is invited to join in with the party.  "Let Me Know Your Heart" is the opposite to "Let It Out" - slow and poignant, it is another dimension to their overall sound.  It is a love song, but some of the tones used sound slightly sinister in places; but this style of song has been used by many groups over the years and the yearning for someone to commit is nothing new, but the song is still a beautiful piece of music.

Title track "Fortune" is next and the love story telling continues again with this track, the band sound as professional as always and the lyrical content about being taken away from your loved one whilst they are in heaven and you are in hell, again you are not seeing new ground here; but the music is very good here.  It is a mixture of lots of styles, mostly it is hard a deep blues vibe with a healthy dose of Americana in the mix, this is quite a heavy song for this style of music.  "Trask" is stomping tune which is driven by a fiery tale of pride and words with double means.  It is fast paced number that brings to mind The Pogues for some reasons; it has a similar charm to the song "Thousands Are Sailing" with its story and pounding rhythm - a brilliant number.  "If I Knew You Were There" is a slow love song, boy meets girl, etc, etc, etc - the oldest song in the world.  It is well played and it has no real problems; for me however, after the last two numbers it just seems a little too soft in a way.  It does not really compliment the rest of the album, not doing anything wrong, but not really doing anything right either.  "Songs To Be Sung" is much better; it sounds like sunshine in comparison.  It is a great number, which sounds like sunshine to me.  Even though it is a wistful number, it sounds hopeful and full of love; it might be more to do with the music sounding particularly cheerful in the instance, but it is a rough gem on this album.

"Cold Day" is the ninth number, it is a duet on this album between the two principle singers (I have no idea who is doing the vocals and the internet, and album sleeve information is not helping either - but that is beside the point).  A slow number, reflective in nature and very beautiful as well; it does have a climbing guitar section which can send shivers down the spine, a well crafted number indeed.  "Animals Inside" starts off with a pulsing bass and this love song is an aggressive feeling number in nature, the subject of the song is not going to take no for an answer and if anyone gets in the way then more fool them.  It has that American Gothic vibe going on, feeling as if it could be used in a sinister way and it feels creepy....of course I love it.  "The White Tundra" feels like it is coming out of the blocks on fire with a manic shower of accordion and frantic drumming, however once the song settles it does not go that fast; it goes for a sound of war and the fight of man against either a foe or nature itself.  It sounds very heavy for this type of music, extremely dramatic and full of fear, passion and theatrical language; in short it is a brilliant number once again.  "Be Good" slows things down for the penultimate number, with a tale of a person wanting to redeem their ways for a new love.  It is a mid-paced number which is strange way to follow "The White Tundra" in some ways, but for what it does it is a very good song; not perfect, but alright. "Count To Ten" is a riddle mixed in with some droning accordion, light banjos, violins sombre in the background and a haunting vocal delivery.  It ends the album on a quizzical moment, leaving the audience pondering the meaning of the song.

For a random purchase that my lovely lady got me for Christmas, I have to say it is a brilliant move.  The cover is intriguing and the performance of the band is incredible.  It could have been cut down by a few numbers, but this is just a personal thing.  It is a brilliant album which has been played a lot since I received it and it will continue to be played a lot more afterwards as well.  This is a brilliant riddle of an album which will continue to show its wonders for years to come.

8.5 out of ten - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Top track - Trask


You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the Black Prairie website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer users, here is a link for you to hear the album

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