Lately there have been a spate of artists knocking the easy “three chord song” folk music that’s so prevalent in the current music landscape, but Fathom Lane is not one of those simpler acts. Their sound is complicated in the best way possible. From the opening sounds of “Lazy” listeners are put in mind of the late 60s. The guitars are clear, the vocals are great (especially the high harmonies) and the whole product comes together for vintage-yet-refreshing sound.
The second track “Sugardown” has a nice alt country vibe to it. The lead vocals are just familiar enough that you’ll find yourself saying, “wait, who is this?” I’m here to tell you it’s Fathom Lane and you need to remember them. The guitar work sounds a little like some 80s pop country (think Alabama) and the vocals are pure 70s pop gold. It works, really, it does.
“Dream Her Name” has an eerie minor beginning. It’s a pretty harsh shift from the pop sound that precedes it. Sounding like something from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, the track intentionally gets the hair on the back of your neck standing. Although it doesn’t necessarily suit the overall sound of the band, it oddly fits on the album as a way to accent the other tracks. Later, “Ache Me” has a similarly unique sound that helps it stand out from the more popular sounding tracks.
“Perfect Day” is the best track on the album. It’s about drinking sangria in the park. It’s also one of the better tracks for passing the vocal lead back and forth. The comfortable feel of the track is decidedly not the vibe the band wants for every track, but it’s the one that fits best with my taste. I think it has the best mass market appeal too. “Just a perfect day… problems left all alone.” That sounds like the perfect day to me.
“Waltzing Blue Jesus” has a nice easy rhythm too it. It makes you want to sway. Again the vocals are a premium on this (especially the harmonies). On “Nightshade” I couldn’t help but think “THAT ORGAN!” as soon as the track began. Probably one of my other favorites on the album, it’s the kind of track that has a sultry quality to it and a simultaneous sweetness. “Pull the nightshade… pull the covers down… your bed ain’t empty…” It’s part love song, part scandalous, and all classic. But really, it’s the organ that makes it. Seriously the 1970s called and they don’t want their organ back because ya’ll are rockin’ it.
“Grey Dress” has a kind of John Mayer pop acoustic sound to it. Again Michael Ferrier’s apparent love for minor chords flavors the sound. The guitar part music be a blister maker. But that said, the open acoustic “who are you girl in the grey dress?” part is pretty sweet. The little bass runs in the background are pretty retro – awesomely so.
The concluding track “Golden Delicious” is named after my favorite kind of apple, so I naturally knew it would be great. See, those apples are mostly yellow but a good sweet one has a nice little pink spot on the side that looks like she’s wearing rouge. That’s my favorite thing about them – the sweet rouge. And you know what, Fathom Lane managed to compose a song – piano, guitar, vocals – that capture that sweet, crisp, and juicy flavor. I love it.
All told, Fathom Lane were better than I remembered them from first listen. Their album has some quirks that some listeners will really like. I was most attracted to the more conventional tracks, but it’s definitely a listening experience. I am looking forward to hearing how the band evolves with new inspired writing and complex compositions.