Album Review: The Orchardist – Dirt on Your Hands

Some artists have this incredible ability to sing every lyric as if it has eternal significance and the Orchardist is one of those bands. If you want some indication of the caliber of humans involved in this endeavor, check out their purpose from their website. “We aim to cultivate songs that nourish listeners and spark lasting relationships.” Wow. There’s definitely Something sparking the urgency of their songs.

The leader of this angel band is Drew Miller and he’s pulled together quite the talented group of musicians. The opening track on the album, “Sing Into My Silence,” shows just how versatile and talented they are, utilizing gang vocals, killer strings, and plenty of passionate lyrics. There’s a very clear religious sentiment that gives the passion and power of the song direction and significance.

The second track “Small World” has an intricate Nickel Creek style feeling to it. Miller’s lead even sometimes sounds like Chris Thile. That said, it’s the combination of clever lyrics and well-delivered string work that makes the track. “It’s small world whose mysteries finally are solved.” It’s about living life with purpose… having it figured out with a sort of gentle humility. It’s really a great tune with at least three discernibly different genres – jazz, soul, and rock. This coming after an opening track with a clear “indie folk” feel to it.

Now “Break Us” is revolutionary in a completely different way. It’s delivered with tenacity and urgency. “Have I been livin’ like a shadow on a wall?” It’s an existential anthem. “Run away from the keeper of my soul because I’m afraid that my soul is not my own. I’m a ghost in the fields of heaven and the grass cuts like glass on my feet.” Wow! The piano is gorgeous, the vocals are fantastic, and the writing is out of this world. It reminds me of some of Matt Thiessen’s best work on Relient K’s piano anthems (I’m thinking specifically of “Deathbed”). That’s about the highest praise I can offer an artist.

The last track “Where Do We Think We’re Going” is still deeply spiritual, but with considerably more whimsy. “I’m in debt to the thieving hands of the clock and the future’s been making me pay…” It’s really clever and engaging. It’s evidently crafted by someone who gets that life is about more than careerism and immediate pursuits. There’s more to life. It’s so good. Seriously listen to it.

This album is a shocker from start to finish. The genres intermix wonderfully. The artists are all clearly very talented and the authorship is exceptional. Fans of bands like Nickel Creek and the Punch Brothers will find this album really great. It will be great to hear what else the Orchardist has coming down the pike.

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