Violet Woods, released Nov 2014

Track by track review of the recent self-titled LP/CD from Cambridge band Violet Woods. An adventure in indie psychedelia…..

1. Electric Fascination. A strong, brooding opening track. The shimmering 12-string guitar figure opens the song then persists through variations as the echoing vocal competes. It is a walk through the trees (woods) on the LP sleeve with occasional glimpses of the brighter sky.
2. Over the Ground. A companion piece to track 1, again with a sinister guitar phrase dominating, backed with descending organ and vocal layers. A fuzzed electric guitar solo takes us to an abrupt end.
3. Here. A resolution to the first two songs, an optimistic pop song with a heartfelt statement of contentment. A simple and affecting lyric, the title barely mentioned but the sentiment very clear. Uplifting guitar lines and well judged sustained keyboards.
4. The Dancer. Appropriately titled, a bit funky this one, when played live it is an energetic high point of the show. Skips around at first, light touch on the bass, then from nowhere a big noisy finale.
5. Take Your Time. A low key ballad, but definitely a grower. Singer Xavier Watkins delivers one of his best vocals on the album, plaintive and subtle. Guitar, drums and organ given plenty of time to build on a repeated phrase at the end.
6. What I Need. Mid-tempo compact structure based around a staccato drum pattern, passes along nicely but not quite the same immersing ambience of the other songs.
7. Raw Love. The band’s debut single from late 2012. A carefully crafted catchy pop song, radio-friendly hook line, if only all radio was as good as 6 Music.
8. Driftwood Royalty. I really like this one, so laid back, could be from the sixties or eighties, it floats in and out again like some sort of impressionist reverie.
9. The River. The rest of the album paves the way for this track, it draws on all the others to create a complex epic, musically driven by military precision drumming, punctuated by restful passages with underlying tension. The last two minutes of the song goes into drumming and guitar overdrive before the final sustained note, tempting us back to track 1…

Overall an accomplished debut, excellent production and deserving of repeated listens (it sounds good live too!)


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