REVIEW: Satin Nickel – “Shadow of Doubt” is Uniquely Modern Spin on Folk


On their sophomore effort (and first LP), Shadow of Doubt, the Brooklyn five-piece Satin Nickel have managed to cobble together a uniquely modern spin on folk and Americana that adds in some contemporary flourishes while still holding on tightly to genre traditions.

Surprisingly, considering how cohesive the record is, the band is just under three years old. They have 5-song EP to their name, a decent debut, but Shadow of Doubt easily eclipses that earlier effort with it’s much more ambitious sound. While banjo and mandolins still feature prominently in their music, the band’s use of cello, charging guitars (“Just Keep Running”) and even the occasional guitar solo (“Secondhand Smoke”) gives their music an experimental edge often missing from the genre. And while the results can be mixed at times you can’t fault the band for often inspired creativity. The album starts with “Train Song,” a fairly traditional folk track, before pivoting to the remarkable “Call It,” a perfect break up track and “Secondhand Smoke,” easily the two best songs on a consistently solid LP.

Part of Satin Nickel’s appeal is the shared vocals from both Samantha Aneson and Morgan Hollingsworth and the band’s tendency to vacillate between quieter moments (“Last Night,” “Free”) and brasher songs (“Just Keep Running”). Lyrically, the record is predominately personal, like the autobiographical “Free,” and the occasional character-driven song, like the “The Ballad of Yankee Jim” (one of the few low points here).

The album closer, “The Shadow of Doubt” is a cello-heavy, dauntingly dark track, that on first pass doesn’t really fit with the tone of the record. But on repeatedly listens, the appeal quickly grows, and you can understand why it became the record’s title; it’s ambitious, challenging and far from being what you’d expect from the genre. The same could be said for the band.

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