[10 December 2006]
If you recognize the label DAG!, then you probably know the old-timey music of the Bootleg Remedy, a band headed by David Gould that released two albums, their self-titled debut in 2001 and Cutting Time in 2002. At that point, Gould’s interests led him elsewhere, landing him the job of bassist for singer-songwriter Caroline Schutz’s mildly psychedelic group, Folksongs for the Afterlife. Gould and Schutz married in 2004, and then formed another new union: the Inner Banks. Sensibly, the artists culled the best elements of their previous musical efforts and fused them together to create the lush and beautiful sounds of their eponymously titled first album. The result is something like a tightly reined-in take on freak-folk. Or, perhaps, it’s semi-acoustic prog. Chamber pop? Well, we might just have to throw it into the old “art rock” box, and let the music speak for itself. The seven buoyant and luscious tracks on The Inner Banks are exquisitely arranged, with fingerpicked acoustic guitar figures yielding to swelling strings, electric piano melodies accented by brushed drums and muted horns, and Caroline Schutz’s crystalline voice singing impressionistic lyrics, as she does on only two cuts, “Glittering Sky” and “Anthem”. Elsewhere, her lovely vocal contributions are wordless “ooh”‘s and “ahh”‘s. Perhaps the only other band I know of operating in a similar stylistic realm is Zero 7, although that act is less folky and more overtly pop. Never mind these attempts at finding musical touchstones for the Inner Banks. They have crafted a gorgeous, warm, gently winding debut worth returning to again and again.