Soulsavers | It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land (Red Ink)

cd_soulsavers.jpgThe disc avoids this trite compost heap by blending unique swathes from the musical palettes of Machin and Glover, creating a tapestry of sonic possibilities.







British production duo Rich Machin and Ian Glover comprise the rootsy-rock outfit Soulsavers. The group’s debut album, It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land, is deceivingly twangy, with electronic and gospel colorings. Most twangy-rock albums provide a predictable recipe of flat-toned, electric guitar, with well-worn vocals so decayed from overuse they hang on the genre’s face like wrinkles. It’s Not How Far… avoids this trite compost heap by blending unique swathes from their musical palette, creating a tapestry of sonic possibilities. In songs like, "Arizona Bay," the all-instrumental repetitions grow with a catastrophic, Mogwai-esque elegance. Deep toms thunder below fuzzy guitars and beautiful piano, creating a sound track for an obscure and threatening fear that hovers over the album.

Few songs have grabbed me so immediately and as intensely as the first song, "Revival." There’s a warmth, reminiscent of a well-used record, that accompanies the Baptist Church-like gospel choir backing guest singer Mark Lanegan (who sings on eight of the eleven songs). You can almost hear it pop and crackle, as a droning organ slothfully pumps tones beneath soulful vocals.

This album obliges the listener to engage in a sort of self-reliant introspection, as if vocals are sung with you, not to you. It quietly wraps you in its embrace, like a set of hand-me-downs you may, one day, fit into. It swells, groans, creaks like a humble storyteller as painful recollections escape a furrowed mouth. Interestingly, the album’s simplicity is matched by its mysteriousness. In the aptly named "Spiritual," Lanegan repetitiously croons, "Jesus, I don’t wanna die alone/ My love was untrue, now all I have is you."

The British origins of this duo came as a surprise to me. Maybe it’s my ethnocentrism, but it seems to me that these British song scribers zealously write lyrics with a distinctly straight-shooting, American style. The album definitely has a twinge of Southern roots, as evidenced by their cover art, which features the all-American dollar, a figurine Jesus, and Derringer pistol.

The album’s low point might be the ultra-slow Neil Young cover, "Through My Sails." The group marches slowly along the well-worn Young song, slowing down the already patient ballad. Baritone vocals replace Young’s screeching voice, which, aside from the slower tempo, might be the only adaptation Soulsavers made to the song. As the song trudges on, it sleepily lulls the listener to a detached place, until the instrumental "Arizona Bay" redeems them from any harm.

It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land is one the most interesting and likable albums to be released in recent memory. It welds together country, post-rock, and gospel, creating a totally unique experience to warm the heart and harden the senses. A | Glen Elkins

RIYL: Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Mogwai, VAST

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