“I only did to you what the sparrow did to you.” If that is any hint to what this album will do to your eardrums and emotions, it can only be described as a euphoric combination of the saddest tunes. Porchstep Songs takes the theatrical Americana/Folk sound off the edge of a cliff and onto the rolling train of what is soul and blues. This unique combination fits well in an album that seamlessly transitions from the stripped-down singer/songwriter to a full-room sound. Porchstep Songs is filled with harmonies, trumpets, and a string quartet that easily change any song into a cinematic soundtrack experience.
Porchstep Songs is a story detailing the progression of coping with a loss and relationships in the new world of music. “Something to Talk About,” is a catchy song with an upbeat tempo that gets people moving to the lyrics that speak to music’s ability to bring memories back, though it can never bring people back. The song displays everything you can expect from this album, from violins blanketing over harmonies and upright bass galore.
“Showbiz Town” has a country feel that expresses the emotions of playing music live and exposing yourself to a crowd. “Recite the lines so perfectly makes everyone believe that it’s the first time it’s been said.” It describes the life of putting on a mask that makes it seem as though everything is all right. It can leave a person bare. As a song, “Bare” has a way of growing on you; it begins stripped to a man and his guitar, but builds as the lyrics move from trying to prove how open and bare a person can be to the realization it has just made them stronger.
“Graveraft,” which primarily uses the two other singing sensations of the band, is a tidal wave of epic sound. The breakdown in “Graveraft” sounds so poppy and happy as they sing “My love was never enough,” and “Screaming to waste my breath.”
“The Pier,” “Bare,” and “Ladybug” all give much-needed simplicity to the album through Mark Damon and his guitar, providing the singer/songwriter element within a 7-piece band. “The Pier” doesn’t span more than a minute, but it gives the listener a break from “Graveraft” and relaxes back to the more solemn sounds of the album, like “Oh Mercy, Mother Me.” “Oh Mercy” features vocal progressions that sound similar to what mainstream acts are trying to do, but As the Sparrow delivers a female high point which gives the song its unique sound. “A Catherine Wheel” and “The Machine” are the two heavy-hitters on this album; everyone seems to get involved and boy, do these songs slam you in the face.
Tracks to watch out for: “Ladybug,” the one full love song with its choir-like harmonies that emphasize that the album is soon coming to a close, and “Oh Mercy, Mother Me” because of its unique vocals, which make the song is a sure-fire hit. If you like Sufjan Stevens mixed with Iron & Wine and Mumford and Sons, then you’ll love As The Sparrow. The album has taken two years to complete and not a minute was wasted; every song was worked and re-worked, and it is evident in the overall quality of the album.
The album will be released tonight at Davis Square Theatre, 255 Elm St., Somerville, Massachusetts 02144. Also performing are The Bridgebuilders, Oo, and Soft Cactus. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
*9.0 out of 10*
*Edited by Nicole Freeman*