REVIEW: Darlingside “Everything Is Alive”


Darlingside – Everything Is Alive

Taking a page from the book of Fairport Convention, Pentangle & Dando Shaft this alt-folk quartet combines folky elements with lushness, harmonies & nothing too slushy or corny. The music is solid & the arrangements unravel lovely melodies & storytelling narratives with traditional instruments.


Produced by the band the 12-track Everything Is Alive (Drops July 28–Thirty Tigers/More Doug Records) steps lightly through common subjects – gun violence, meditating on death, rebirth, facets of loss, shades of optimism & life’s choices.

“Right Friend,” is attractive with its spirited vocals & assorted percussion. Darlingside takes their presentation one step ahead of mediocre alt-folk & with “All the Lights In the City,” there’s a tinge of Jackson Browne by way of The Blue Nile style. This has an energy that’s refined & vivid. It’s laid back but the manner the group threads the music, with its creative percussion an individualistic achievement. Though the band’s roots are indeed in the soil of those vintage bands mentioned this group is modernizing the organic grace of the genre with each performance.


At times the vocals border on male chorale with its enduring singing in unison. Evident in the marble-smooth tones of “Eliza I See,” the music & lyrics are always filled with imagery & an age-old musical showcase. They’re not as Medieval as Amazing Blondell or the Incredible String Band but they do tweak that influence gently with those subtle influences. “Darkening Hour,” is very Eddie Baird (Amazing Blondell) in vocal style. Good vocal clarity & the folky tonality has an antique tint.

By “How Long Again,” the band is fully immersed in a chorale vocalizing style closer to a church choir than Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. “Down Here,” again touches upon the acoustic guitar-Eddie Baird machinations from decades ago (“Standing By the Window,” “On a Night Like This,” “Mulgrave Street”).


For some a little patience in appreciating this music would be required. For others, it will be ear candy because this music has remarkable spins both vocally & musically. “Baking Soda,” is a perfect example. The band manages every song to provide a different instrumental focus. There’s no boredom in the package. They will rein in the ancient notes & walk an alt-folk path taken by bands like Lindisfarne (the late Alan Hull), Horslips, or Chris Simpson’s early Magna Carta (“Seasons”).

Highlights – “Right Friend,” “All the Lights In the City,” “Eliza I See,” “Darkening Hour,” “How Long Again,” “Baking Soda,” “Sea Dogs” & “The Breaking of the Day.”

Musicians – Multi-instrumentalists Don Mitchell, Auyon Mukharji, Harris Paseltiner & David Senft with Ariel Bernstein (percussion), Thomas John Cadrin (water bottle), Ben Cosgrove (piano/keyboards), Molly Parden, Caitlin Canty & Deni Hlavinka (vocals), Benjamin Burns (drums/percussion) & Dietrich Strause (trumpet/flugelhorn).

Color image by Shervin Lainez. The 41-minute CD @ Amazon + https://www.darlingside.com/about


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