This post was written by Brent Hitchcock, one of the winners of our Review Contest! Thanks to Brent for this awesome work. Look forward to reading more from him soon.
Last year, I had the pleasure of hearing Burlap to Cashmere live at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA as a part of their tour to promote their self-titled album released Fall of 2011. Composed of front-man / guitarist / songwriter Steven Delopoulos, his cousin, flamenco-style guitarist John Philippidis, drummer Theodore Pagano and others, Burlap to Cashmere combines a modern sound with Greek folk music influences that produces a subtly complex folk-rock sound that captivates and leaves the listener wanting more.
Self-titled album Burlap to Cashmere (2011), also available in vinyl, masterfully showcases Delopoulos’ haunting vocals, guitar/banjo fingerpicking, and poetic lyrics. Combine that with cousin Philippidis’ flamenco influenced lead guitar, subtle keys and marching bass, all topped off with Theodore Pagano’s shuffling Greek rhythms, and you have a recipe for a delightfully unique sound. Orchestrated Love Song is an archetypical Burlap to Cashmere song that showcases what they do best. The minimalist verses with few background instruments frame Delopoulos’ poetic lyrics and fingerpicking, and lead into powerful Mumford-esque crescendos for the choruses.
From the opening notes of Build a Wall, one of the albums most up-beat tracks, the band really cuts loose. The toe-tapping Greek percussion, aggressive vocals, and rhythmic acoustic guitars combine to form a high-energy song that is often Burlap to Cashmere’s go-to closer/encore piece for live performances. Inspired by a family members dying words, Delopoulos sings with hope about what is to come after death on The Other Country, a stripped-down track that is heartbreakingly bittersweet. From the bands’ exploration of powerful compositions to minimalist arrangements the appropriately self-titled album is devoid of ‘filler’ songs, a true masterpiece as a whole piece of art. For music lovers and especially vinyl-enthusiasts hesitant to spend full price on an album, this whole-album concept is oftentimes the decision point.
For inspiration Burlap to Cashmere draws on many of the 70’s folk bands that they grew up listening to such as Van Morrison, Cat Stevens, or James Taylor to name a few. Yet they go on to infuse Mediterranean influences and a modern touch that crafts a unique sound that is all their own. In this video featuring Tonight and Hey Man, front-man Steven Delopoulos talks about their inspirations and the sound that they work to achieve.
If Burlap to Cashmere has you hooked, check out Anybody Out There (1998). Their debut album is less subtle and a more dramatic foray into B2C’s Greek roots. A fun bass-line and acoustic guitars rhythms pair with catchy vocals in the happy Digge Dime. Philippidis’ flamenco-style lead, rapid fire acoustic guitar and mesmerizing drums carry the the upbeat Basic Instructions and Divorce. Minor-key fingerpicking and ethereal keys build to B2C style crescendos in title track Anybody Out There?. For even deeper cuts check out Steven’s solo album Me Died Blue. Singnature finger-picking shines in Daisies and Sandalwood, and title track Me Died Blue builds to a powerful bridge.
In 1998, after Burlap to Cashmere broke into the music scene with Anybody Out There?, they toured the country, built a fan base, and then suddenly dropped off the map. I think back fondly to my college days, where their first albums’ stimulating rhythms, and complex riffs formed the soundtrack for countless hours of studying or road trips (Maybe more of the latter). In 2005 a tragedy that left lead guitarist Philippidis in the hospital for over a month ultimately set the wheels in motion that resulted in the New York based band’s reunion. Having built a cult following over the years, fans were thrilled with Burlap to Cashmere’s return after a 13 year hiatus. After the studio album and subsequent tours of the US, its safe to say that Burlap to Cashmere is back in full force. In addition to talks of a new studio album, they have recorded numerous live performances, including a recent show Live at the Bitter End. They are currently working with PopFictionLive to produce a film, due out December 9th, that features their music and chronicles their journey back into the spotlight. The FragFilm style documentary The Other Country, provides a poignant look into the joys and sorrows that have shaped Burlap to Cashmere’s music.
After the show in Atlanta, the band hung around talking with fans, new and old alike. I spoke with Steven about my love of their music through the years, and he related their excitement to be back, doing what they do best. Here is a group of incredibly talented musicians who love playing for, and relating to their fans. In the vast ocean of modern folk music, Burlap to Cashmere’s melodic songwriting and Greek influences set them apart as a group that will soon become one of your new, old favorite bands.