Red Sky July
Posted by Kuang on Wed, 21 Sep 2011.
The self titled debut album by Red Sky July drifts across the mellower side of the Americana / country landscape, taking in a great deal of the genre without ever seeming contrived. It's a musical style that might not be the first choice for many simply because they've never really considered it; this would be an opportunity to put that right
The approach is subtle and unpretentious, with minimal instrumentation - delicate brushed drums, just a touch of pedal steel guitar, a hint of keys - clean and simple, and just enough to provide a backdrop through which both vocalists can weave their magic. The tightly entwined voices of Charity Hair and Shelly Poole feel like they were made to be together, combining with a completeness I haven't heard since Alison Krauss joined forces with Robert Plant for 'Raising Sand'. The album was recorded live, and has a sparkle and subtle tension that's captivating as a result.
It's hard to pick high spots, but if forced I'd single out the wistful and melodic 'Morning Song', which tugs at the heartstrings just enough to be moving without breaking the contemplative mood. I've also grown extremely fond of 'White Feathers', not only for the beautiful dreamlike imagery in the lyrics but because the vocal harmonies cascade and flow in a way that summons up shivers every time.
Ironically enough, If I was to make one criticism of the album it's that a couple of tracks feel like they have two vocal lines simply because the band have two vocalists - they work together beautifully, but within such a subtle framework less can sometimes be more.
That's more an observation than a complaint though. This is a lovely, calming album and a convincing debut that deserves to succeed simply because it's comfortable in its own skin and doesn't feel the need to constantly pick at your attention. Far better to lie back and soak it in at your own pace.