Fathom Lane – In the Driftless
This Minneapolis band Fathom Lane is a bit subtle. I’m not usually a big fan of this kind of musical approach but on careful listen the lyrics are carefully chosen; the melodies are sinuous. Mindful of bands like The Blue Nile, the Swiss band Double (“The Captain of Her Heart”) & Prayer Boat. All critic darlings since they construct word soundscapes that may be laid back but are often impactful. Instead of a French kiss, they give neck kisses.
The 10-cut In the Driftless (Drops July 14–Independent) was produced by Matt Patrick & Michael Ferrier (acoustic guitar/vocals/glockenspiel/whistle) & has strong music to recommend it. The gentle singing with its instrumental brushing filled with color. The gentle piano runs, thick bass lines, strings strung together like a spider’s web across a bush & on some songs the unison singing is auspicious. There’s nothing fragile here it’s all sewn together confidently.
This effort is their first since 2017. The band is led by singer-songwriter Mike Ferrier & he dabbles generously in folk, country (“Sad Songs & Waltzes Revisited” – a Mary Cutrufello song), some pop & rock that explore both light sides (redemption & rediscovery) & dark sides (addiction, loss, isolation). The album features 2 covers, but the atmosphere & mood remain consistent. Tunes explore a folky noir & the songs do get deeper into areas many others seldom venture into.
Darker & bluesier is “The Lookout,” with its creeping, predatory musical endowment. Each phrase parceled out like a Tom Waits-gone folky & part Tom Paxton’s “Mr. Blue” as performed by Clear Light. Nice scathing Matt Patrick’s lead guitar lays down a tempestuous groove. Ferrier’s vocals are possessed. A nice contrast from the earlier tunes.
The band is innovative & entertaining. As the CD progresses their varied styles of music become apparent & they’re convincingly interesting. “Eye Oh Way,” is a wonderfully composed & performed piece. There’s a romantic edge in tunes like “The Queen of All Hearts,” & “The Stranger In Me,” – both danceable with splendid lyrics & voices (Ferrier & Ashleigh Still). Classy stuff.
Highlights – “How It Begins,” “Surviving,” “Fire Under Water,” “Sad Songs & Waltzes Revisited,” “The Lookout,” “Eye Oh Way,” “The Queen of All Hearts,” the beautiful “The Stranger In Me” & Tom Petty’s “You & Me.”
Musicians – Alexander Young (drums/percussion), Paul Boblett (bass), Shane Akers (lap steel), Ashleigh Still (piano/vocals), Matt Patrick (electric guitar/baritone guitar/hi-strung guitar/Hohner pianet & piano/synth/drums/ clavinet/mellotron/Hammond organ/mandolin/glockenspiel/percussion) & the Laurels String Quartet (strings) with string arrangements by Cory Grossman.
Color images courtesy of Fathom Lane’s website image gallery. Cover photo by Natalia Drepina.
The 46-minute CD @ Bandcamp + https://www.fathomlane.com/