Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos- Notherner: Review

Listen to, and then BUY Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos’ Notherner on their bandcamp.

On their new release “Northerner”, Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos paint their songs with a gentle, soulful paintbrush that melds modern folk pop stylings with late 60’s Van Morrison tinged R&B.

 

With 15 tracks, this is a cohesive album of songs that takes it’s time, allowing the listener to relax and enjoy the ride.  As Smith sings on “Let’s Ride It”; “We’ll keep it smooth, we will take it real slow.”

 

Dustin Smith’s voice is smooth and husky and easily comparable to artists like Ray LaMontagne and Damien Rice, but it’s his occasional enigmatic phrasing and annunciation that help give the songs their uniqueness. On almost all of the tracks, Paige Harpin adds a layer of masterful harmonies that lean toward dark minor intervals and polish the songs in an essential way, similar to the complimentary harmonies of acts like She and Him, Civil Wars and Swell Season.

 

“Center St.”, “Let’s Ride It”, “Orphans” and “Walk On My Love” are all highlights. As is “Rosemary”, a lilting, self deprecating folk ballad that is one of the more sparse acoustic arrangements on the album.  “It’s raining outside and that’s all right with me, ’cause lately I’ve had nothing else to see.”, Smith sings.

 

Smith has nice way with alliterations and turns of phrase, like “Karma Kamikazes” and “We wrapped our minds around solace and gin”. His rhyming schemes have a way of drawing out syllables that add an air of exotic mysteriousness and he’s not afraid to sneak in an explicative for good measure, either.

 

A couple of the songs showcase homespun banjo licks.  Turtle Song is a traditional roots ballad with a twist, which holds its own with songs by Lumineers and Mumford and Sons.  “I caught a turtle on the edge of my tongue – sneaky and sassy like his grandpappy was.”

 

The horn arrangements compliment the songs perfectly, with Stax inspired ascending lines on Let’s Ride It, 80’s horn stabs (think Genesis) on Center St. and a jazzy Charles Mingus like breakdown of “Walk On My Love”.

 

“Northerner” has a stylistic breadth and depth that separates this record from its Midwestern peers.  The deft arrangements drift into complex territory while keeping the songs enjoyable and listenable – no easy feat.

 

If golden age R&B like Smokey Robinson and Curtis Mayfield nestle together on your Ipod with modern folk pop artists like Iron and Wine, Of Monsters and Men and Young The Giant, “Northerner” by Dustin Smith and The Sunday Silos is perfect music for your rainy day playlist.

 

 

Todd Partridge has been active in the Iowa music community for over 25 years, performing original music with several Iowa Rock/Blues/Roots music groups and recording music at Old School Studios – a recording studio set up in an 90 year old, 3-story brick school building.   Currently, he is performing throughout the Midwest with his band,  King Of The Tramps. 

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