Little House –  Echoglass (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

We know that Echoglass is pretty deft at fashioning music across a wide range of genres, their fluid and fairly eclectic back-catalogue is testament to that. But I feel that they really come into their own when they play the role of small town lamenters, troubadours of the kitchen-sink drama, purveyors of the northern chanson, revelling in mood and emotion above the more obvious hooks and melodies of the everyday pop world.

And Little House is all of that, delivered in a Richard Hawley-esque style, which itself channels Roy Orbison and Scott Walker to varying degrees, it is built as much from the space behind the main voice as it is the gentle harmonies and ever growing sonics which grow to fill it. It is this space which allows the vocals to feel like the voice in the wilderness, the lone performer on the empty stage, at least for the first half of the song. It is then joined in gradual increments by supple and subtle musical inclusions. Guitars shimmer and chime before firing off salvos built of raw power chord, bass lines wander high sonic pastures on their own melodic meanderings, beats fall into line and otherworldly and eminently impressive harmony vocals cocoon themselves around the proceedings weaving through and above and behind and beyond.

To some degree, anyone can make pop music…its essential qualities being a beat, a catch and a melody, you can find those anywhere, just look at the charts to see what a throwaway and thoughtless job it can be. But the skill is not to make music but to fashion it, not to knock something together but to whittle something down to its very essence. Here Echoglass, take raw emotion, mood, melancholy, regret, loss, longing and heart-aching lyrics, and strip those feelings down to even more essential (hence the name) lines, the effect getting more pronounced with every stoke of the artists blade, editing, defining, finessing.

And once they have everything down to its bear lyrical essentials and most meaningful vocal moods they use the music to create the most glorious sonic frame in which to show off their work. If that is merely pop music then you might as well say that Monet like to make an impression or Michelangelo was a dab hand with a chisel. This really is music pushed to its artistic limit but without leaving its commercial potential behind. It isn’t often that art can be both commercially viable and critically applauded, even more rarely in contemporary music circles. Little House, however, is one of those times.

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