Tales From The Drought


General Bird, 2017


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Rainbrother’s Tales From The Drought offers a slice of Americana that sounds as if the band has experienced Americana. So it comes as a surprise to know that Rainbrother is not some act from, say, Kansas, but from Copenhagen, Denmark. And although it might appear that frontman and principal songwriter/album producer Bjarke Bendtsen travelled across the vastness that is America to get inspired while writing this album, he created it on his home turf. This is even more surprising given that the folk-oriented indie rock style of this album feels like a long journey through the American heartland, where time does not matter and space is infinite and something to get lost in.

The very first sound you’ll hear on Tales From The Drought is a twangy guitar note, which begins opening cut “Riverside.” This song is a seven-and-a-half minute long epic, consisting of two very distinct parts that keep alternating with each other. The first part is big and cinematic, made up of galloping drums and dreamy acoustic guitars that are led by a wistful piano riff reminiscent of Coldplay’s “Clocks” and featuring wordless choral singing that is both eerie and angelic. This is followed by the second part that kicks in about a minute-and-a-half into the song. The song’s grandeur dies down and the music is reduced to softly played – like in a campfire setting – acoustic guitars and drums Bendtsen’s hushed, intimate singing. After the verse is over, the entire cycle repeats itself.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

On “Riverside,” a cut that is actually written by Bendtsen for his grandmother, it sounds like a tale of some sort of a legendary journey through a neverending landscape, with the fast part representing the journey in the day time and the slow section depicting the period of repose during the nighttime after a long day of travel.

The following track “East African Dream” has the same cinematic roaming aspect of “Riverside” and best represents one of the most distinctive features of this album. Primarily instrumental, this song takes the wordless choral singing of its predecessor to a whole new level. The entire song is predominantly driven by these vocals that take center stage, sounding otherworldly and primitive.

These mysterious and celestial choir vocals take on many different interesting shapes throughout the album, mainly in the form of background vocals. This lends a dramatic feel to the album’s overall atmosphere, which evokes imagery of excursion through limitless expanses. Some of the quirky numbers here, like “Crow” (song about crows), “Juggler” (song about juggling to keep yourself busy while you are waiting for true love), “Fat Eggs” (song about hens), and “The Sun” (a song about the sun, of course) make this imagery more colorful, as if these are the characters that one might come across on a mighty journey like this.

Much like traveling through the American heartland, time moves slowly while listening to Tales From The Drought, as most of its songs are in no hurry. Cuts like “Birds Don’t Fly,” “Hanging,” and “The Sun” are particularly meditatively slow. To be fully enjoyed, they require the listener to totally toss away the notion of time and to contemplatively give into the space created by them, which seems to change only ever so gradually.

There is not one bad song or boring moment on Tales From The Drought. But like the surreal experience of driving through miles of empty country landscape, patience is a must for the journey – that is, the journey of listening through this album – to be truly rewarding.

Rating: A-

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© 2017 Vish Iyer 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 General Bird, and is used for informational purposes only.