by Frank Ippolito
Their band page states, “Oh no, not another indie/folk band.” And yes, the world doesn’t need another. Really, it doesn’t. I’m serious. But you know what? The world does need a band like Ozark Pappy. Really, it does.
Yes, If Our Boat Begins To Sink has acoustic guitars. Yes, it has a kick drum up front and center. And I’m sure there’s a violin buried somewhere in the mix, but there are some things that this band has that the other bands that we don’t need anymore has: Honesty, wonderful harmonies and lyrics and most especially a synthesizer, yes, synthesizer, that is the focal rhythmic key to “Dust In the Dirt”, the first track on the album and runs its course throughout the record.
Dear bunch of folk bandwagoners and coatailers, all you did was basically rip off that idiot Mumford and his regressive sons, who ripped off and bastardized the wonderful music of Irish immigrants and the like – but Ozark Pappy, gets it.
OK, OK, “Eugene”, the second track, follows a very familiar template, an empty one string rhythm and harmonies, but again, it doesn’t disintegrate into that loud, fast and pounding overused outro that is so terribly annoying. It stays quiet, reserved, and allows us the listener to bask in that familiar template and at the same time, convinces us that it is new.
“Fidel”, is an ode to the late dictator. The history nerd in me loved it just for the title, the music lover found the guitar and the distorted guitar. See what they did there? A welcome surprise and, there again, the band gets it – take what’s been done and make it your own. And then, the bridge features a breezy female vocal pitted against a ferocious lead electric guitar solo, take note folkers.
The middle of the album featuring, “Ben”, “Blue Jeans”, and “Waiting for My Time to Come” are strong compositions – the band goes back to its folk roots without burying itself in irony. I like them, I really do, but they don’t have that spark of ingenuity the first half of If Our Boat Begins To Sink possesses. But you know what? It didn’t matter to me because it gives my ears a chance for a respite and relax into the music. They’re folk through and through, and a good choice by the band – like any good concert – up, down, up and get out of there.
And that’s what the final two tracks, “Blood to Bleed” and “75”, do. You know that spark I just referred to? Yeah, it’s here, especially on “Blood to Bleed” – a song that brings in traditional accordion and tambourine. But instead of over-featuring them like so many bands do, they give them a tiny space to play and set them against an open snare and childlike keyboard riff. Add to that, the fine storytelling, and there you go – originality.
As far as “75” goes, this delicate song featuring an over-vibratoed guitar, mandolin, and xylophone is the perfect way to end the record. It allows the listener to float out of their body and into a dream-like state and then, poof, we’re wanting to replay every one of the songs over again.
All in all, I really enjoy this record. And, I can totally see how this will translate onto stage.
Yes, Ozark Pappy: Jon Cain, Chris Bean and Heather Nyhart, as well as all of the contributing musicians the band recruited, the world doesn’t need another indie/folk band. Thank goodness we got you.