Twin Forks

Twin Forks

Written by: TL on 03/03/2014 13:07:49

Chris Carrabba is an emo hero. It's a fact - there are books written on the subject. In 2014 however, it's not his zeitgeist-defining songwriting efforts as Dashboard Confessional that have us allocating page space to the now 38 year old Connecticut native, rather it is his new folk-styled collaboration, with Suzie Zeldin from The Narrative singing harmonies and playing mandolin, and with Jonathan Clark on bass and Ben Homola on drums. Together they form Twin Forks, a band that I did in truth introduce already on last year's self-titled EP, but here we have them back already with a full length offering of their retrospective country stylings.

And sure, "Twin Forks" is a country album in the sense that its semi-acoustic soundscape is characterized by healthy measures of mandolin, banjo and finger-picked acoustic guitar, and by hand-clapping assisting the rhythm and kick-drum beats that lend themselves easily to boot-stomping at live shows. That said though, it is not without the gloss and sheen that fans will recognise from Carrabba's later Dashboard' records, and despite the group's expertly catchy songwriting, curious listeners will be wiser to come in expecting country-pop instead of a truly authentic feel - It's like the band have organised a super fun barn-dance in the middle of the city, yet can't truly connect with the folksy roots that inspired the whole idea.

If you can accept that however, then Carrabba's expertise as both a singer and songwriter are still undeniable qualities oozing out the album's every seam, with semi-catchy melodies in abundance to greet you welcome on each returning listen. Reappearing from the EP, "Can't Be Broken", "Cross My Mind", "Back To You", "Scraping Up The Pieces" and "Something We Just Know" dominate the first half of the album and still prove capable of effortlessly wedging vocal melodies into your consciousness, and especially the first and third prove their longevity with their infectiousness appearing every bit as strong on here.

As have been the case with Carrabba's later Dashboard' albums however, things get to feeling a little light-weight as the album drags on. Perhaps it's undone somewhat by already revealing its prime cuts on the preceding EP, but it's hard to shake the impression that songs like "Danger" and "Reasoned An Roughened" - however neat and cutesy - don't feel a bit hokey and short-lived. It's here one starts to wonder again, if it wouldn't have helped to get a bit more clever with Zeldin's vocal contributions instead of keeping her strictly in the role of singing harmonies.

Really though, "Twin Forks"' main problem is that it doesn't have the depth or urgency that characterises the better albums in the genre it seeks to imitate (see for instance the recently reviewed "Southeastern"), nor the sort of rural, oldschool atmosphere that similar bands like Mumford And Sons and Of Monsters And Men have had success tapping into. When the energy is high and the mood is swinging you can get on board with it, but it doesn't really tug at the heartstrings when it gets mellow, not like Carrabba did in his youth for instance, back when he conjured up a magic that he is probably unlikely to ever live down.


Download: Can't Be Broken, Back To You, Something We Just Know
For The Fans Of: Chris Carabba, Of Monsters And Men, Mumford And Sons, The Lumineers

Release Date 24.02.2014
Dine Alone Records

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