Country balladeers “The Northern Lies” have grown more numerous since their last album, going from three to five members in the interim between Midnight Medicine and their new record – White Desert Blues. Has this translated somehow into the band’s sound? It depends on who you ask. The songs still follow the same major patterns, and there are no surprises when it comes to style either. This album encapsulates the idea of “easy listening” with regards to both complexity and aesthetics. Some people will find that acceptable, some won’t.
Text: George Stoica
The album is fairly homogenous, though the one song that seemed to stray from the rule, “No Good”, seemed to be the best of the lot just by virtue of its slight variety. However, this homogeneity also means that the tracks manage to flow together discreetly, and you get the sense of one big song, rather than several smaller ones.
Now, as far as lyrics go, I have to say that some of them aren’t very imaginative. For many people it may not detract from the music itself – it’s a matter of taste – but if you’re looking for a skilled wordsmith to weave a web of words, you will find that The Northern Lies lack a little …poetry. Oftentimes the imagery is delivered in a sort of unrefined manner. They use blank verse for a significant percentage of the time, which is not a bad idea in theory, but whether or not it adds or subtracts from the music is for anyone to decide.
As far as the instrumental side is concerned, the band does its job. The liberal usage of steel guitar sets the tone firmly down in the realm of Americana, and country fans are sure to find a catchy little ditty to whistle along to. The harmonized vocals are nice and add much needed variety to the mix. Themes of melancholy and nostalgia are omnipresent, and they hang in the air even after the last track ends. White Desert Blues is by no means a bad album, but it failed to reach me on a level deeper than the surface. If you get the chance to see them live, check them out and decide for yourself.