Dusted Reviews

Feathers - Feathers

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Feathers

Album: Feathers

Label: Feathers Family

Review date: Feb. 26, 2006

Those in the New York metropolitan area can catch Feathers on Friday, March 3 at the Lutheran Church of the Messiah, 129 Russell St. in Brooklyn. Dial 802.598.7749 for more info.

Mirroring a similar communal band-as-family cover portrait found on Current 93’s Earth Covers Earth (in itself a hat-tip to The Incredible String Band’s The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter) brings immediate perspective to where this Vermont eight-piece is coming from and plan to go. Unable to escape the reality of these modern times – Feathers can’t claim rights to traveling across New England on horse and cart or being misanthrope outsiders – their self-titled debut is presented with the subtle gesture of anonymity (first name band credits listed with no attributes to who wrote/played what) and the aforementioned richly detailed cover (and inner poster) as joint statement: they know their history and are secure enough to don face paint, medallions and Robin Hood-like attire to complete their method.

While the English folk tradition is surely at the root of Feathers they’ve only directly nurtured their fascination in the poetics, like the opener “Old Black Hat With A Dandelion Flower,” which begins ”Old black hat with a dandelion flower / White old rat raling seeds in my garden / Skin soaked in diamonds, necklaces of lemon,” sounding much like the String Band’s Robin Williamson. Onward from there, the group creates a lofting, camp-fire jamboree far from the castle gates of mere homage. There is no reedy, Shirley Collins vocal hanging atop or ringing steel of a Davy Graham guitar. Instead, they gently deliver a complex, almost robust, interplay of harpsichord, dulcimer, violin, acoustic guitars, bird calls and ascending mountain choirs. With such a laundry list of instruments, the risk of saturation is high, but each songwriter (all members compose) precisely places the instruments in its own role, whether lead or background accent, never clouding another yet seeming like a continuous, effortless flow.

Across the LP’s eight songs, Feathers is able to touch upon ballads (“Silverleaves In The Air of Starseedlings” and “Alna”) psychedelic flirtations (“Ibex Horn”) and child-like melodies (“Past the Moon” and Come Around”), which waver near Irish traditionals. “Alna” is a minimal tone poem with recorder, and possibly lute, directing the female vocalist through the verses, while on “Van Bal” wistful, twirling harpsichord unravels with such delight from a cornucopia of background glimmers of notes and light electronics.

Issued on their own Feathers Family imprint the album will soon be reissued on Devendra Banhart’s Gnomonsong (the group guested on Cripple Crow). Listeners shouldn’t take that as heed to tar Feathers and toss them in Banhart’s brier patch. They are more in line with groups like Nagisa Ni te or their fellow statesmen The MV & EE Medicine Show – deftly exploring a folk foundation while allowing it to slowly spiral out into experimentation and more rhythmic proportions. A fabulous debut album, Feathers can only be a stepping point for upcoming work.

By Eric Weddle

Read More

View all articles by Eric Weddle

Find out more about Feathers Family

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.