Battle Worldwide Recordings, 2014

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Sometimes you have to search for an appropriate analogy when describing new music, and sometimes it’s right there in front of you the moment the music starts.

It takes less than half a minute—the gently lilting opening chords of opener “Grew Into Something New,” enveloped in a wash of gauzy melody, joined by sleepy-eyed lead vocals—to decode this album’s musical DNA. The Beach Boys times the Cowboy Junkies divided by the Jayhawks: boom, done.

In other words: lush, dreamy, reverb-laden melodic pop with occasional country shadings, full of swelling sounds and beguiling vocals, simultaneously bright and melancholy. That’s my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Plumes, the sophomore album from the estimable Co-Pilgrim, a band that is at its core a partnership between lead vocalist/lyricist/guitarist Mike Gale and multi-instrumentalist-producer-creative foil Joe Bennett, with support here from vocalist Claire Bennett (Joe’s wife) and drummer Ben Perry, among others.

It’s the sort of distinctly atmospheric album where the individual tracks have a tendency to blur into one another—in a good way—but let’s pick out a few highlights here. Entering in the wake of the rather languid “Grew Into Something New,” “I Know Love” takes the group in an upbeat direction, punching up the rhythm section and doubling the melody line with strings and rich harmonies between Mr. Gale and Mrs. Bennett. Then “Come Out Alive” dives deep into Jayhawks territory with the supplest of ballads, decorated with bells right out of a Brian Wilson daydream.

“Shame On You” is a haunting ballad full of echoey slide guitar and vivid images like “cold eyes on your back,” a dark and beguiling creation. By contrast, “Pushover” adds a bright, Byrds-y jangle to the band’s typical pastel palette. In the album’s closing moments, “Wedding Day” offers a surprise—an instrumental track with an ambient, rather proggy feel that nicely prefaces the delicate acoustic melody of closer “It’s Curtains For Me,” the most spare of the tracks here, forgoing the gauzy backdrop to focus in on just voice, acoustic guitar, bass and drums.

Plumes is enveloped in Bennett’s shimmery, burnished production, full of gentle reverb and soft edges, creating the perfect setting for Gale’s thoughtful, ruminating tunes, filled with quiet echoes of longing and regret. This is an accomplished, appealing album from a group with a sound that’s familiar and fresh all at once.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2014 Jason Warburg and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Battle Worldwide Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.