The Choir - The Loudest Sound Ever Heard (Bert Saraco)

Created on Thursday, 21 June 2012 Written by Bert Saraco
The-Choir-Loudest90Psychedelia for the spirit, pop-angst, a twelve-step inspired sighing of the spirit with a little rambunctiousness on the side.... call it what you will, it still sounds like The Choir to me – and that's a good thing.


The Loudest Sound Ever Heard

The Choir
www.thechoir.net
Galaxy 21 Records
10 tracks / 45 minutes

Mullets and mohawks have come and gone over the past 25+ years (as well as more than a baker's dozen of classic albums), and here's The Choir, yet again – sounding older and wiser but no-less passionate and energized. The Loudest Sound Ever Heard is the new project from Derri Daugherty (Vocals, guitars), Tim Chandler (Bass), Steve Hindalong (Drums, glock, tambourine & shakers), and Dan Michaels (Lyricon, saxes) – the familiar line-up, this time aided and abetted by Marc Byrd (guitar), Matt Slocum (cello), Leigh Nash (guest vocal) and Christine Glass Byrd (background vocals).

Guitars and haunting lyricon notes drenched in reverb are part of the signature sound of this band, and Daugherty's gentle, plaintive vocals make for a more introspective experience than the album's title might suggest. As a matter of fact, it's not 'til half-way through the project, on "The Forest For the Trees," and "Takin' the Universe In," that we get to hear more typical pop tempos and hooks. "The Forest" might actually be the most lyrically positive moment on the menu, with lyrics like, "I believe the sun will shine on you and me, my friend / I have learned to trust the turning of the seasons/Even now the sun is breaking though the clouds again / But I still don't know the causes or the reasons..."

This is not to minimize the quality or importance of the more introspective songs – in fact, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard is in many ways the more thoughtful follow-up to the anecdotal and more personal Burning Like the Midnight Sun, which often featured specific situations relating to band members and friends. Here, we have the haunting, mantra-like "Cross That River" and the existentially spacy "Laughter of Heaven," which urges, "Embrace the mystery, Unlearn, unknow, Pray for serenity, You're not in control," over a drumbeat that at times recalls The Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows."

Hindalong's lyrics are deep and poetic, Daugherty's sensitive vocals and guitar work seem to be one instrument, Chandler's bass is subtle but strong, and especially effective on the minimalist, stick-in-your-head, "Takin' the Universe In," and Michaels' sax and lyricon are as sensuous and mysterious sounding as ever. Another note about Hindalong's performance: his drumming is possibly the most dependable and articulate as any I've heard in recent years, and is an absolute pleasure to listen to.

The album ends with perhaps one of the quietest sounds ever heard: the distinctive sound of Leigh Nash – this time in duet with one of the few male vocalists that share the sense of vulnerability that she possesses. Daugherty and Nash speculate, "Are we mere specks of dust, Floating through the Milky Way?" The song is slowly, deliberately paced, with plenty of aural airiness. Certainly, an ending that encourages self-examination.

Once again, The Choir produces a thinking-person's pop album. Psychedelia for the spirit, pop-angst, a twelve-step inspired sighing of the spirit with a little rambunctiousness on the side.... call it what you will, it still sounds like The Choir to me – and that's a good thing.

-Bert Saraco
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