Sunday, 9 July 2017

Daisy House: "Crossroads"

What goes around comes around. No matter how unpalatable a trend may be, stick around and it’ll rear its ugly/beautiful head sooner or later. Everyone breathed a sigh at the end of the eighties muttering “thank God that’s behind us”, but guess what? Now it’s the golden age of Art and Culture, depending on whose blog posts you read. I have a storage unit full of pet rocks – in about three years, I’m going to be a very rich man. Maybe

Some of us are waiting patiently for one particular genre to roll back around – a good one this time. Who remembers folk-rock? Great songs, well played with gorgeous harmonies and articulate guitar lines. I’ll tell you remembers folk-rock: Daisy House, that’s who. 

It’s album number four for the Southern Californian father/daughter duo.  Tatiana Hammond sings and Doug Hammond does everything else. Annoyingly for us mere mortal, he does everything else incredibly well, from searing lead guitar lines to delicate piano parts. Goddamn over-achievers… They’ve taken all the great bits from a long neglected genre, given it a 2017 spit shine and the result is “Crossroads”. 

Often when musicians take inspiration from a particular era, the results can verge on pastiche. With “Crossroads”, Daisy House have struck a fine balance – in terms of subject matter, general sensibilities and sonic palette, they’re happy to live between 1966-1972. Wisely, they’ve opted for contemporary production values which adds a sparkle and clarity to the material. Is that a drum machine I hear…?

If you have “The Notorious Byrd Brothers” and “What We Did On Our Holidays” on heavy rotation on your listening platform of choice, then Daisy House are your new favourite band. If you ever wondered what Fairport Convention would have sounded like if Ian Matthews had stuck around and they’d gone a bit easier on the “trad-arr” material, then wonder no more.  From the strident opener “Languages” to the plaintive closer “My Death Is Coming For Me”, “Crossroads” is loaded with fantastic songwriting and musicianship. Both Hammonds possess expressive voices with echoes of Sandy Denny, Joni Mitchell and even Susannah Hoffs of the Bangles. It would be trite to compare them to the Mamas and the Papas… but sometimes they sound like the Mamas and the Papas. 

Daisy House have impeccable taste – we get Byrdsy jangle with “The Girl Who Holds My Hand”, Sheryl Crow style pop-rock-folk with “Night of the Hunter” and two songs – “Pristy Lee” and “Albion” which could have been written 200 years ago, or yesterday. And don’t forget, this lush panorama is constructed by two people. Just two people. Caveats are few – “Nocturne” seems strangely out of place – a piece of cod-opera, almost apologetically placed towards the end of the album. It’s beautifully played, but it’s kind of baffling. Maybe that’ll turn out to be my favourite track on the album in a years time. “Grand Canyon” might buckle a little under its own weight, but that’s about it. 

It’s an incredibly earnest album. Heartfelt and passionate. There’s not much levity on the record, but that’s OK – Radiohead seem to be making a decent living from this Pop Music lark and they’re not noted for their vast repertoire of “knock-knock” jokes. Maybe if they had a full band, the results would be a little looser and lighter. They seem to be doing pretty well at the moment though…

“Crossroads” is so delightfully removed from 2017, it’s practically cutting edge. Its nostalgic without living exclusively in “the good old days”. An eye on the past and one on the future. Remember folk-rock? Daisy House do. And they’ve made it irresistible. 

Click HERE to listen to "Crossroads" on Bandcamp

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