Living up to their indistinct but apt choice of name, this 8-piece group from Vermont use feather-light vocals to deliver one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year. Opening the album with falling waves of harmonies, there’s more than a touch of Marc Bolan to these dreamy descents, but they can’t help but be entirely absorbing. While it may be a stretch to decipher some of the words, the interplay of these shimmering lines has an addictive quality, leaving a taste that has you wanting more before the song has even ended.
Musically speaking, it should come as no surprise to those familiar with Devendra Banhart’s “Cripple Crow” that Feathers guest appeared on that release, as there is quite a similar presence and texture to these songs. But no matter how many fad labels you attach as a prefix, this is just good old timey folk. Flush with an range of “world” instruments (undulating guitar, mountain dulcimer, lap harp, sitar, and banjo among them), “To Earth His Own” is another vibrant, intoxicating affair, the vocals again low in the mix as a rhythm rich with the air of a time long gone winds a trail into the soft and simple “Alna.”
Led by a female delivery this time, the track is buoyed with an almost pious element, its slow, sleepy feel fading out to a strangely misplaced squeal of distortion before the ascending acoustics of “I Bex Horn” stabilise the LP’s momentum comfortably. Here, the inclusion of a distorted guitar is the only reminder you’re bound to find that what you’re hearing isn’t from the antiquated music sheets of centuries bygone.
From crickets to radio-waves, “Van Bal” is an impressively eclectic mix of sounds, reverberating with a surreal degree of balance despite the sheer volume of ingredients involved. From “Silverleaves in the Air of Starseedlings” on, the Feathers LP begins to feel like it has the stamp of George Harrison all over it – the same soothing voices that weaved the warm “Old Black Hal with a Danelion Flower” together here sounding like a blissful choir of strung-out angels.
After the rather more stripped down and straightforward “Past the Moon,” there is an eerie similarity to a blend of Harrison and Lennon on “Come Around,” a number that presents itself like a well-rounded, traditional gospel folk tune, completing the Feathers experience nicely. Though the album is arguably a little too light in places (even for feathers), in all, if it can catch your attention in just the right frame of my mind, this is an extremely comforting release among the year’s best.
Having made the transition from CD-R to a limited run of 1,000 LPs, it may be some time yet before Feathers begin to gain the kind of attention they deserve, but rest assured they are a welcome addition to the ever-blossoming folk revolution.
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