Community, Edge, Music, Reviews

Folk EP blends traditional country, ‘newgrass’ genres

In the past year, Big City Folk Band has proven that they’re far more than just another folk band.  The band’s name stems from the members’ love of folk despite their hailing from urban backgrounds. Big City Folk Band consists of Samuel Feinstein, Katherine Evans, Matthew Clinkenbeard, Trish Vega and Garrett Smith, all students in the Frost School of Music.

In an interview with The Miami Hurricane last January , the band discussed its love for traditional country and contemporary bluegrass.

Due to their love for so-called “newgrass,” Big City Folk Band dishes out performances and singles with a modern flair.

“Growth” is an outstanding first EP, sporting a 14-minute track list that consists of four songs. It’s a short listen, but it’s a great way for new listeners to get a taste of what Big City Folk Band is all about.

Sonically, “Growth” sounds like a cozy, traditional folk album, but the band isn’t afraid to spice things up every now and then. While the first half of the EP pays homage to the simple, shanty-like elements of folk and country music, the second half features a subtle variations in instrumentation, establishing a discordant, bluesy feel for the last two tracks.

Lyrically and melodically, the EP can range from spirited and lively to ominous and somber, including sudden tonal shifts that capture a wide array of compositional themes and styles. However, “Growth” doesn’t stray too far from its roots and still does a wonderfully effective job at maintaining its soothing, down-to-earth flavor.

Full track list:

‘Call to the Wind’ A bubbly, string-laden folk number with some great vocal and fiddle work by lead singer Katherine Evans. This track is an excellent way to showcase the band’s general direction and love for the traditional stuff.

‘Girl with the Blue Guitar’ – Much like the previous track, this light-hearted ditty, sung by Evans and Garrett Smith, has a cozy feel and a vibrant, catchy chorus. There’s an energetic texture to this song that’s almost contagious.

‘Take Me Back’ – This is the point at which the EP starts to incorporate more elements of soul and gospel. The slow drumbeats on this track create a calm, hypnotic mood. This is the most relaxing song of the four.

‘Who Am I’ – The minor key is widely used on this track, which creates a distinct gloomy tone that separates it from the rest of the EP. The song also stands out lyrically and instrumentally. The vocals and lyrics are haunting, yet introspective and enjoyable. Despite the inclusion of piano, one of the least folksy instruments, the band impresses by maintaining its usual down-to-earth style.

“Growth” is a great EP that can best be described as lively and comfortable. Musically, it’s a safe step in the right direction and a sweet collection of songs that will satisfy the traditional folk lover and even cater to some everyday pop enthusiasts.

For Big City Folk Band, this appears to be the start of an exciting musical career.

Rating: 8/10

“Growth” by Big City Folk Band can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, Apple Music or Facebook at Facebook.com/thebigcityfolkband/.

September 15, 2016

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Israel Aragon Bravo


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