Family Band – Grace & Lies

January 01, 1970

(No Quarter)

 

Thanks to the Internet, we can actually watch Family Band –
the upstate New York
collaboration between visual-artist-turned-singer Kim Krans and her husband,
onetime heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin (Children, S.T.R.E.E.T.S.) – recording
a song from Grace & Lies, their
sophomore release. At one point in the proceedings, Krans describes the
decision made to drop the acoustic guitar track from the tune “Again.” For the
song, it’s a pivotal moment because it imbues the music with real weight.

 

It’s also a decision the duo would’ve done well to stick to
throughout. Grace & Lies works
best when it lays it on thick – opting
for textures over latticework -and is least successful when it strips back and
relies on its acoustic-folk undercarriage. Thankfully, the former predominates,
with Grizzly Bear Dan Rossen’s production pointing the way. Tracks like opener
“Night Song,” where white noise, dubby percussion and pinging guitar lines
eventually build to an ominous, prowling mass, seduce through accumulation.

 

Layer upon layer stack up to blanket Krans’ delivery – at
times icy and distanced like Beth Gibbons, at others warm and pleading -over
the sinister pulse of “Lace,” and Ollsin’s haunting guitar lines and dramatic
percussion build to a menacing presence in “Ride.” 

 

Whether Krans’ voice is capable of carrying Family Band’s
folky tracks is the issue. “Moonbeams” eschews the thick textures for a thin
layer of synths as the song drifts into more generic Beth Orton territory, and the
acoustic finger-picked trellis of “Your Name” slips toward forgettable hipster
folk. But the next song, “Your Name,” dresses up a simple country shuffle with
varied slide guitar lines from Hiss Golden Messenger’s Scott Hirsch, and the
title track’s glowing guitar arpeggios and shimmering chord surges, along with
warm harmonies, turn Krans’ disquisition on our dual natures into a hymnal.

 

Penultimate track “Keeper” puts all these components to even
better effect by dialing up the atmospherics into a cloud of sound between
comfort and menace for Krans to float over. It’s the album highlight, and
points the way forward for more mesmerizing music in the future for Family
Band.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Keeper,” “Grace & Lies,” “Rest” 
JOHN SCHACHT

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