Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club Serve Up Brooding Americana On New Album
In 2008, folk troubadour Dan Blakeslee teamed up with some talented buddies to form The Calabash Club, a New England based Americana group. Together, they've shared the stage across the U.S. with big-name acts like The Lumineers and Kimya Dawson and have since put out a few cohesive records. Their most recent release, The Alley Walker, is a full-length record that experiments with outlaw country, blues, and classic folk.
The Alley Walker dropped just last week and was recorded in a 150-year-old mill by a river in New Hampshire, accentuating the album's slinking, vintage old-school tones. The record begins with the brilliant, rolling "Johnny and June." The opening track moves through a quirky Beatles influence to Grateful Dead grooves, merging iconic rhythms for an addictive sing-along that buzzes with thick layers of country crooner vocals and swollen folk arrangements. Later, "Lone Star" takes on an outlaw tune that creeps as Blakeslee's strong voice rumbles, singing the clever hook: "I'm a lone star in the state of Texas," over emotional crescendos of sharp strings.
"Sabre Tooth Tiger" is a soft, slow-going folk track led by impressive storytelling. There's a noticeable ache here, heard within shaky vocals and low strums. Next is "The Somerville Line," a bittersweet bluesy song featuring wailing rhythms and sharp, oddly thoughtful lyrics like "And the Mona Lisa? You can ask the Louvre / The best things? They sometimes need repair." Later comes "The Bandit," a gorgeous ballad rich with emotion. Blakeslee is barely there, his voice but a hum and a low howl while a lush guitar line floats around him. Following that is the cutesy, bass-driven folk anthem "No Shame In Wastin' Time" that implements a strict insistent rhythm line with plenty of opportunities to sway along and bop your head. The Alley Walker ends with its title track, which echoes and broods with classic folk intensity. The lyrics are ominous, as is the versatile vocal delivery, and the arrangement here is expertly crafted, growing during the powerhouse chorus.
On The Alley Walker, Dan Blakeslee & The Calabash Club combine their solo talents -- from poetic songwriting to eerie percussion to moody rhythms to smooth vocals -- for a collection of rich Americana gems layered with one-of-a-kind sonic details.