Saturday, February 2, 2013
Big Harp Write Chain Letters
Los Angeles via Omaha group Big Harp do not in fact have or play a big harp on their latest album Chain Letters. Rather, what Big Harp do on their commutes between cities is create some sort of pastoral romp through a near Magnetic Fields like toy box. The resulting record is a well traveled, slightly humorous, shambolic, eclectic, and noisy but intimate event. Whether or not this is supposed to be a folk record is up for debate, but it's not your usual folk record because it has too much countrified rock coursing through its veins and if you throw in Chris Senseney's deep voice it's an altogether different experience.
Consisting of Chris and his wife Stefanie Big Harp is almost like The Other Two, Two. They totally love dusty and dear music and create this lovelorn, wry, and clever countrified pop music that sounds like it's drank too much whiskey and smoked to many Camels. It's rough but the songs are sweeping and rustic and almost seem like they'd be perfect for some sort of call and response event. Chain Letters is intriguing stuff that's not necessarily catchy and/or memorable in a pop sense but manages to hold your attention with just how eclectic and obtuse it is. I really like Chris' voice for some strange reason...it's just pitched down so much and totally fits the noisy countrified riffing behind him that it works. It makes the entire record sound brokenhearted, downtrodden, and depressed and I think that's Chain Letters charm.
Chain Letters is the sound of the Midwest if Los Angeles were it's capital. It's a little bit country and a little bit city but it's a whole lot of good. In touch with more tradition that it realizes this is folk music that's almost a joy to listen to. They may not have a Big Harp but they don't need one...they've got big songs instead.