The Darling Suns' Debut EP And The Sunshine They Spread
Last year, Chicago-based Americana group The Darling Suns released their eponymous debut EP. The thing is, it doesn’t sound like a debut. They know what they’re doing and they do it damn well. Each member of The Darling Suns is equipped with obvious wide-reaching talent, so the result is a release bursting with beauty from a band destined to build up a prolific discography of impressive folk-rock efforts.
The Darling Suns opens with “Since You’ve Been Gone,” a gorgeous starter track because it serves to introduce a couple of styles and tones we’ll hear as we make our way through the EP. Steady percussion and searing strings lead the composition, merging soon with the countrified twang of the lead vocals. As if the dynamic Americana arrangement isn’t enough (it is!), the band add lush harmonies, automatically launching the EP’s opener from a sweet little folk song to something almost mesmeric in its soft splendor. On “Ghost,” sharp strums of acoustic guitar open the track, quickly joined by the trill of a crying violin. Suddenly, that emotive voice starts singing line after line of poignancy — “It’s another lonely night in this house on my own / If you listen close enough, you can hear the sound of a ghost” — like an unending gut-punch made even more painful by the unexpected burst of pretty, pulsing multi-instrumentation. Thank god the song comes in at a languishing five minutes, because it’s a bittersweet piece meant to wash over you in slow-motion. Take it in.
The halfway point of The Darling Suns finds “Willow Tree,” our first taste of the shadows cast around the corners of this EP. There’s a certain edgy twang to this track — in the thicker, angrier percussion and the quick rolling guitar riffs — but it’s cut by sweetness once again when the harmonies come in and the violin wails in the distance. On “Wash Your Blues Away,” The Darling Suns return to the delicacy they do so well. A soft acoustic line leads the track for a good 30 seconds before the vocals join, delivering a powerful, self-reflective narrative. There’s very little to the arrangement this time, just the rollicking guitar for a few lonely minutes before the composition expands to include tender strings and soft percussive shimmers matching the woozy melancholy of the rest of the piece. The EP ends 25 too-quick minutes later with “Heart Of Gold,” the longest and most frenzied track on the record. Finally, we get to hear what happens when The Darling Suns let loose. The vocals are a strong, dark croon above a searing blues-rock arrangement led by buzzing strings and heavy drum smacks. It’s a zesty, ambitious conclusion to an album steeped in sadness and sweetness, but a welcome reprieve since it’s done so energetically.
On their debut EP, The Darling Suns offer five remarkably crafted Americana songs, each one given love and life with thoughtful arrangements and pretty details. It’s the kind of EP that makes you hungry for more. Luckily, with the talent they display on their debut, there must be more coming.
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