Let’s start with a preliminary conceit: “revival” folk bands are treading territory that their forefathers blazed far earlier. OK? It isn’t new; but really, how many artists create new sounds? If the choice for contemporary American country music is between ballads to plastic cups slurred by Ed Hardy-clad caricatures, or the toes-in-the-sand, margarita-in-the-hand vacation soundtracks of Buffet disciples, I’ll gladly follow a bunch of sweaty and earnest kids down a welcome, if not uncharted, path.
All that is to say that if you have a predispositions about enjoying old-timey roots music made this decade by a young band with an old soul, please leave them at the door. No Separation by New York’s Spirit Family Reunion has seldom left my turntable since I received the hand-printed LP in the mail three weeks ago. The six-member outfit draws comparisons to fellow New Yorkers The Felice Brothers, but Spirit Family Reunion is decidedly its own band. Their music is set in an anytime scene without any nods to past stylistic kitsch or forgotten turns of phrase, and while the self-released first album doesn’t do anything particularly new, the things it does are done exceedingly well.
No Separation features 12 tracks of high proof ruckus and hand-rolled laments that show a keen appreciation for when to kick things up and when to show restraint. On bangers like “I Want To Be Relieved” and “Green Rocky Road” banjo and fiddle ride ramshackle percussion to the brink. The more down tempo songs like “On My Mind” strip things down and let the harmonies do the heavy lifting. You really get the sense that these people love playing with each other and it really shines through hearing all those voices rise in unison. Throughout the album, the singers come together in tight harmonies that you can’t help but join in.
Best of all, No Separation offers everything a good collection of folk music should: melodies that stay in your head, an honest recount of both joyful and troubled times, inspiration and a confidence that things will turn around, a sense of community and an invitation to pull up a chair.
– Written by Brad Cardwell
Stream Songs From No Separation & Buy
Spirit Family Reunion: Website; Facebook
“I Want To Be Relieved”