Burn the Branches –  The Epstein (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Genres demarkations are created to be hopped, skins are there to be shed, sonic journeys begin with just one new chord, pigeon-holes are there to be avoided and hiatuses are taken so that they can be ended. I’m not really sure what most of that means but it does all seem relevant to The Epstein’s latest album Burn the Branches. Perhaps more associated in the past with an alternative indie sound or a British take on Americana, it seems as if the band which have come out of this period of hibernation have put all of that childish nonsense of adhering to just one genre or adopting one particular style behind them. Now the approach would seem to be to only define their music in terms of size and scope and cinematics and dynamics and sonic drama rather than anything more rigid or constricting.

Of course there are hints of their former sound still to be heard but it now seems just one of many modes of transport that they employ, rather than the be-all-and-end-all. Yes, there are gorgeous folk structures being built and Americana forms being explored but there is also indie accessibility, pop sensibilities and weighty rock drives as well as cinematic grandeur, clever understatements, spaciousness and restraint, gorgeous atmospherics and that resonant, unknown ingredient which marks these songs out as future classics.

They are as happy wielding the buoyant, bouncing grooves of Finally Forgive as they are working with the quiet minimalism of Red Rocks. Make This Our Home sees them wander more soulful paths and It Will Pass shows that they can play the bombastic card but do so with style and grace, power and poise.

Burn the Branches shows that The Epstein haven’t lost their touch, far from it. In fact as they emerge blinking into the light following this recent hiatus they seem more exploratory, more emotionally loaded, more deft as writers and players and more…Epstein-y, than ever. Not only is it great to see the band back and making new music, it’s great to have them return with such a confident musical stride.

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