Birds and Cages
Artist: Deas Vail
©2009 Mono Vs Stereo Records
Morrissey, Prince, and Bono pretty strange bedfellows, no? They all use falsetto as a vocal device in their singing generally to add emotion or emphasis. Done sparingly, by somebody who has the vocal chops, it's a very effective and musically interesting device.
Wes Blaylock can sing, I mean, really sing. Spot on and in control, his voice is up front and given the frequency elbowroom it commands. He does sing in falsetto, weaving in and out like a soul singer filtered through an alt rock sieve he comes out on the other side sounding both convincing and in control.
The band is tight and sounds fully developed, certainly mature and locked down as only an ensemble who know each other can move. The recording is crisp, and while the bedrock is pretty traditional in terms of bass/guitar/drums, there are keys and orchestral flourishes that add interest rather than detract from their sound.
Overall it's a mid-tempo affair. It stays within the confines of vaguely introspective but without sacrificing it's brilliant sheen for a dip in the road suffered under the weight of melancholia.
My only real criticism is that it never reaches out and grabs me. The songs are very, very finely crafted and the elements that make up their sound are lacking nothing in terms of either chops or the production to show their competence. There is no “show stopper” for me on this. I seem to fall into the trap of expecting a mature or genre conscious band to break ranks for a song. I wouldn't even go that far with this, maybe one song with just solo piano and voice?
File this one under modern alt pop. Anyhow, minor quibbles over a very fine release from Deas Vail. Stay together and write your White Album next..................
Dean A Arnold