Strange Like We Are

Campfire OK

Ana-Them Records, 2010

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


In the world of folk music, simplicity has always been a comfort and commendable trait. Frills and fancies aside, the humble singer, the acoustic guitar, and the poetry in his or her words have been the pied pipers stirring the hearts of folk music lovers.

Then comes an extraordinary band like Campfire OK. There is no second guessing the band’s beautiful bucolic debut Strange Like We Aremy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 as anything but the folksiest of folk music, but the one thing that stands out about this act (hailing from the great city of Seattle, Washington), is the drumming (oddly enough), which is as glamorous as it gets.

The band’s drummer, who goes by the last name Dagworth, has the animal ferocity of the drummer of a rock outfit. Sometimes, there is a jazz-like methodology to his percussive work. And always, his drumming is sharp and loud, and the rhythms are complex and vibrant.

But Campfire OK is truly an extraordinary band. They don'ti let the exceptional drumming devour the rest of the music. This is a band of phenomenal musicians and a singer, Van Der Speck (last name), whose voice is as lilting as that of a songbird on a brisk Spring morning. The band-pianist Goodweather (last name again) is another force that adds great depth to the music. Her piano playing – like Dagworth’s drumming – has an electrifying personality of its own, with the notes sometimes flowing mellifluously together like a stream (“We Lay In Caves,” “You Would Owe Me”) and sometimes halting in a percussive manner (“I Would Like Everything,” “Hard Times”), practically providing a concomitant accessory to the drumming.

Although it may make many a folk music aficionado cringe, but Campfire OK is much like a really good prog-rock group. Each part is wonderfully good on its own, but when they come together, it is like poetic harmony on a different level. And even though the song lengths aren’t notably long, Campfire OK’s song structures are anything but conventional, with the music, rich, espousing a wide array of instruments.

Strange Like We Are is no way a renouncement of folk music; this album just makes folk music more exciting.

Rating: A

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