Artist Spotlight

Review: The Local Strangers, “Take What You Can Carry”

No Comments 5 April 2015

Review: The Local Strangers, “Take What You Can Carry”

“Both discs are required listening because they put the formidable vocal talents of both Zoli and Hart on the full display that they deserve; this pairing is a potent one, and the result of their musical union is vibrant and undeniable. Take What You Can Carry is a complete creative musical experience from start to finish, and a must-listen.”

Artist: The Local Strangers

Album: Take What You Can Carry

Genre: Soulful Americana

RIYL: Houndmouth, The Lone Bellow, River Whyless

The Local Strangers Take What You Can Carry

Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart are The Local Strangers, a duo of Midwestern transplants now based in Seattle. And in truth, this pair sounds like its absorbed the influences of different music scenes to create a modern soulful folk sound all their own. And their new double release, Take What You Can Carry, takes a wonderfully simple approach to showing off the versatility of their songwriting. The 11 songs featured on both discs receive very different treatments, and the result exemplifies the importance of being able to work through song arrangements with flexibility and finesse.

Disc One is a lush, vibrant, full band treatment - where Zoli and Hart employ the talented Mike DeBenedictis on electric guitar and banjo, Ethan Sobotta on bass, and Justin Howard on drums. The lead track, “Gasoline,” is a great indicator of what’s to come - intricate guitar arrangements, perfectly placed drums and those vocals. The harmonies captured between Zoli and Hart are powerful and confident, two vocalists that know each other well and who each play to their own strengths. “Red Dress” is another wickedly wonderful track that taps into country, blues and balladeer territory featuring a particularly vibrant vocal from Zoli. She is in the driver’s seat on this tune, and again on “Up in Smoke,” and her brassy, sassy vocal control and tone are intoxicating.

In striking contrast to the fast and fiery tunes is “Riptide,” a vocal gem that strips the sound back to its studs and lets its leading lady deliver a plaintive, stunning vocal. In fact, when Zoli is singing out with everything she’s got, it’s nearly impossible not to focus on that glorious instrument she possesses. And it’s just after “Always Me,” another tour-de-force radio-ready standout that we really get our chance to hear Hart take control with a disarmingly warm vocal full of character on the lovely “Pilot Light”. It’s here and on the arrestingly beautiful “Touchstone” where the partnership comes full circle, the balance of Zoli’s honey-dripped powerhouse combined with Hart’s steadfast and earnest tone.

The second disc is an impressive performance, captured in front of a live audience with just Zoli and Hart and a guitar. A different take on the same 11 songs recorded in studio but with no less of a dynamic result. That is evident on one of the standout tracks, the insanely good “Always Me” that opens the set. If anything, this particular disc allows us to hear even more of Hart’s vocal work. Zoli provides the range and color while Hart provides the backbone and texture. This treatment of the songs also serves to highlight the many levels of lyrical depth in the songwriting. Shades of murder ballads and bittersweet hopefulness come shining through very clearly, giving The Local Strangers even more edge to their collection of songs.

The Local Strangers have put their hearts on their sleeves with the release of Take What You Can Carry. The songs themselves are exceptionally strong lyrically and the added instrumentation on the first disc elevates them to new heights. And with roots in acoustic performance, you would expect that the live second disc would deliver the goods. But both discs are required listening because they put the formidable vocal talents of both Zoli and Hart on the full display that they deserve; this pairing is a potent one, and the result of their musical union is vibrant and undeniable. Take What You Can Carry is a complete creative musical experience from start to finish and a must-listen.


The Local Strangers website: http://www.thelocalstrangers.com/

 

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