Run River North – – Early Album of the Year Candidate

It’s good to be Run River North. Since forming in 2011, the California folk sextet has built an impressive resume. After filming their own video for the upbeat “Fight to Keep”, off their exceptional self-titled debut, in the backseats of their modest Honda’s, reps from the car company took notice and set up a surprise performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! while using the track on national ads. Since this, the band has maintained a steady increase in exposure from outlets like NPR, American Songwriter, and Paste. Of course, the humble writers at Ear to the Ground have been with them every step of the way and are crazy excited for the meteoric rise that will follow the release of their infectiously fun Drinking From a Salt Pond, which again showcases their soul quieting harmonies, authentic songwriting, and brilliant instrumentation.

 

While a different album than their debut, Drinking From a Salt Pond follows the maturity of the musicians who burst out of the preconceived “folk” label into something deeper and more genuine. The band has never been more confident or expressive on the Lars Stalfors produced album. Working with artist like Cold War Kids, Deap Vally, and Matt and Kim, Stalfors’ influence is definitely felt on the ambitious rock album.

This album embodies, more distinctly, the voices of each member of the band. The first album was about my view of family, home and the world and the rest of the band responding to these stories.  This album is everyone’s individual responses to our collective self-reflection – with each member speaking through their respective instruments to express the relationships within the band rather than my folk stories wrapped in harmonies and swells,” says vocalist/guitarist Alex Hwang.

 

“29” speaks of shadows, nature, and letting go. It perfectly captures the metaphoric songwriting that sets RRN apart from the crowd. It’s a lyrical storm that we all, at some point in time, have found ourselves in. The song bleeds into their first single “Run or Hide” perfectly while dealing with similar material. The exceptional track is incredibly catchy as it unfolds the relationship we have with fear and the choice to fight or give in. This is one of the many gems of the album while being the most rock induced a la Cold War Kids.

 

The band rises above fear and uncertainty in the extraordinary “Can’t Come Down”. An infectious and inspiring pop jam, the band’s renewed confidence and optimism shine through. This is one of the more uplifting tracks on the LP and is classic RRN. While “Elam” is slower to unfold, it builds to a burner of a track complete with one of the better guitar parts on the album. “We’re killing with words and turning the other cheek,” sings Hwang who favors spiritual language throughout.

 

Hwang and Sally Kang (vocals, keys) trade vocals on “Ghost” complete with a Dawes style guitar solo and beautifully delicate strings, which are another strength of the album. It is an illustration of the cunning nature of others that also resides within ourselves. “Pretender” continues this examination in the nature of man.

From a Salt Pond officially comes out Friday, February 26th and is available to pre-order on iTunes and the band’s website. Currently the band is on tour in support of the release. Check out the dates here.

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