Dry Spells – Too Soon for Flowers

January 01, 1970

(Antenna Farm)




Too Soon for Flowers, the debut album for the Bay-Area-by-way-of-Bard-College group the Dry Spells,
ends with a version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Rhiannon” that may just be better than
the original. Adria Otte’s lead guitar throws out the compelling, minor-key
chord changes with a viscerally punkish punch, a counterpoint to the exotically
distanced harmonies of Tahlia Harbour and April Hayley’s unison singing. The
result sounds as otherworldly as Stevie Nicks wanted to look back in the 1970s,
yet it drives to a cathartic conclusion – like a good song should.


This, alas, points out the problem with many of the album’s
nine other songs. While the Dry Spells have come up with a compelling sound –
mysterious flavorings of English folk and Middle Eastern trance, married to
some rock crunch and Diego Gonzalez’s rock-solid bass – cumulatively their own
compositions tend to drift off in atmospherics without making much individual
impact. (Drummer Caitlin Pearce plays on five songs, but subsequently left the
band.) It’s the same problem Annie Haslam and Renaissance used to have with
their mix of English folk and prog rock – it was tough to distinguish one
pretty-sounding song from another. It may be that Otte’s terse, tunefully
shimmering guitar solos can guide this group into constructing more focused
songs, with lyrics and vocals that escape the samey soundscape and make you
want to replay them as much as “Rhiannon.”


Standout tracks: “Rhiannon,” “Lost Daughter” STEVEN ROSEN



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