Common Deer - "Glass" (video) (premiere)

by Jordan Blum

16 August 2017

This latest offering from the Canadian "orchestral indie" quintet is a charming and somber gem.
Photo: Wally Jay Parker 

Earlier this year, Canadian “orchestral indie” quintet Common Deer released its debut EP, I, to national acclaim. A striking collection of symphonic folk rock whose male/female vocal interactions, heartfelt melodies, and robust arrangements conjured shades of Death Cab for Cutie, Of Monsters and Men, and the Decemberists, it signaled the arrival of a resonant and tasteful new act. Fortunately, the group is gearing up to release its next sequence, II, on September 8th, and if their latest song, “Glass”, is any indication, it’ll sustain its predecessor’s excellence in every way.
Comprised of several multi-instrumentalists and two sets of siblings, Common Deer (Graham McLaughlin, Sheila Hart-Owens, Adam Hart-Owens, Liam Farrell, and Connor Farrell) aim to “offer a glimpse of hope in a world overwhelmed by complex issues and insecurities.” Whereas their previously released track, “WAIT!” (also from II), was “an exhilarating call to action against an increasingly jaded and nihilistic social climate”, “Glass” has a more intimate inspiration. As Sheila Hart-Owens explains, it’s “a personal reflection on marriage and monogamy, and the inescapable reality of questioning the future of any relationship, even one that is fulfilling in its present form. This over-analyzation creates pressure on all parties, often leading to dissolution. Is anyone ever satisfied?”

This poignant theme is represented well in from the start, with Hart-Owens’ eloquent tone issuing modest requests over rich piano chords. Soon after, McLaughlin aids her in channeling a moving and memorable hook—“Isn’t it funny? / Isn’t is scary? / Everyone’s waiting for their turn / And it might never come around”—before programmed beats, light percussion, strings, and other organic timbres yield a powerful build-up of emotion and sonic splendor. There’s also a serene bridge near the end (led by Connor Farrell’s jovial bass notes) that concludes the track with a breezy feel. Likewise, the black and white video adds a classy, almost noir-ish vibe that showcases how much passion and focus Common Deer puts into their music.

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