Saturday, March 31, 2012

WINTERPILLS - All My Lovely Goners

On Further Review
by Julie Stoller

new from Winterpills

HAUNTING, BEAUTIFUL NEW MUSIC - On Winterpills’ fifth full length release, All My Lovely Goners (Signature Sounds), the Northampton chamber-pop quintet build on their strong foundation of traditional ‘60s folk influences, to craft a softly-flowing, richly textured celebration of the human experience. By virtue of guitarist Philip Price and keyboardist Flora Reed’s closely-knit vocal harmonies, they bring to mind the gentle harmonies of Simon and Garfunkle (especially evident on “Minxy”). Flora takes the lead in “The Sun Is Alone,” beginning in a quiet way with her delicate whispery voice, which is then joined by melodic turns of guitar and keyboard.

“Small Bright Doses,” one of the standout tracks, is haunted and melancholy, in both the music’s hushed tone and its lyrics (“I’m only good in small bright doses / but you stay near, you stay the closest / for the longest, and the truest / the gentian flower they say’s the bluest / though its flowers are the fewest.”). In “Pretty Girls,” guitar and piano notes occasionally bubble up from the mix to form singular statements. “January Rain,” with its quietly stated vocals and instrumentation, suggests the solitude of a winter rain. Complex, dissonant elements come in at the end, making good use of acoustic guitar distortion (which they do throughout the album) for a rich and interesting string-based palette of colors and textures.

Symbolism abounds in Fleur-de-luce, whose lyrics refer to our history of wars (“bitter fields we bled on / slept then fled on”), the fleur-de-luce (flower of light) and those who have passed (“all my lovely goners”). It seems to bestow a blessing, while at the same time noting that these deeds forever change us, no matter how much time passes (“hang the harps on trees again. / the blood is mingled with the rain.”).

Philip Price, Flora Reed, Dennis Crommett, Dave Hower, Brian Akey

The sheer prettiness of a song like “Sunspots (Ruins)” belies the weariness and sorrow in the lyrics (“I can see from the ruins / this city’s bone-strewn road / stretching on for years”). This is even truer in the closing “Feather Blue,” which, until you listen closely to the story, sounds like a passing daydream by a flowing stream on a warm summer’s day. Price speaks of it as “a shuffling love song to an elusive and cruel muse.” It is ultimately a love song, though hard-fought (paddling a riptide, feeling useless, pulling slow. / trapped under the moment when I knew I had to go. / I was trying to say a word I didn’t know. / candle under curtains couldn’t glow.”).

All My Lovely Goners speaks to the harsh realities of life that shape us, but ultimately to the enduring torch held aloft by those who loved us, and who continue to do so from beyond the grave.

Upcoming Shows
April 7Café 939, Boston MA 8pm; all ages
April 21 – Record Store Day In-store at Bull Moose Records, Portsmouth NH
(vinyl release) 4pm set; all ages
April 21 – The Red Door, Portsmouth NH 8pm, all ages
May 4 – Rosary Beard with Winterpills at Steamer 10 Theatre,
Albany, NY 8pm, all ages

Album / Web / Fb / Tw

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