Auburn - Indian Summer
Posted by Hunter on Wed, 30 May 2012.
Liz Lenten - Vocals
Max Gilkes - Guitars
Jevon Beaumont - Bass
Willy Molleson and Wan Hewitt - Percussion
Eliza Carthy - Violin
Rob Lewis - Cello
So, "Auburn" first formed in the summer of 1997 according to http://www.auburn.org.uk/biography.html, or 1999 according to their main site, and features the love them or hate them vocals of Liz Lenten (not Lis Lenton, or Liz Lentern or even Eliza Lantern as some people have written. It's not hard to check the album inlay really is it). When not busy being a vocal coach or managing Eliza Carthy, Liz writes her own music, some of which is destined for "Auburn", some of which will patiently await it's turn for publishing. Liz's vocals will be the deciding factor for many listeners as to whether or not Auburn's second album will make it into their cherished CD collection, or whether it'll be discarded into the "also rans". I can only describe the sound of her vocals as Macy Gray meets Romily Alice (Japanese Voyeurs, who sadly split in March 2012), all wrapped up in a bit of folk. The hard part there is that I loved Romily Alice's vocals, but hated Macy Grays.
Hippy whimsy, blind optimism, call it what you will, but throughout "Indian Summer" there's a positive uplifting message. Opening track, "Shame on You" has a slightly funk feel to it, with Liz's "on the edge" vocals blending in with an almost quirky Alanis Morissette feel to it. Second track, "Strong" is probably one of the better platforms for Liz's "girlish" sound, which makes far more sense in this musical environment, although the lyrics (and this holds true for most of the album) are a little clichéd, perhaps overused. Title track, "Indian Summer" has a very ethereal dreamy feel to it, but personally I found it a little too ponderous, and I was grateful when fourth track "Free Spirit" started. Again, it's the vocals that'll make the song for you, or break it, and with Free Spirit there are times when it's frailties don't sit comfortably with the backing vocals and strings.
Interestingly, "Day Dreamin" has something of a reggae feeling to it which came as something of a surprise, but certainly wouldn't be amiss on a hot summers day cooling down by a river. On a personal level, by far the best song where Liz's vocals make absolute sense is the sixth track, "Stop The Clock", and it's here that the quirkiness is perhaps toned down a little, but retain the breathy qualities that make it so unique. Country blues style track "Too Far Home" left me a little cold as it just didn't quite hit the mark.
The weakest track (and thus an unwise choice for a finale) is the Dub Mix of "Day Dreamin", which seems to be like the sort of song that would play in the background of an "Indie / Alternative" clothes shop with nobody really paying attention to it whilst browsing shelves of "things". This is a shame becauseAuburnhave some truly unique qualities. There's some great musicianship from the band, some lovely little riffs here and there, and some daring experimentation. As a result, it's not going to ever be in the "mainstream", getting Radio 1 airplay, but for those wanting something entirely different, for those who appreciate the very alternative vocal stylings, "Indian Summer" may well be worth a listen.
https://www.facebook.com/AuburnIndainSummer (Yes that typo is the correct address!).