Thursday, March 1, 2012

Album Review: Dead Fingers - Dead Fingers

Album Rating: C+
We all know that music has undergone huge stylistic change over time, but what is often overlooked is how this has affected the attitudes with which we perceive it. An album of good songs is no longer enough - these days we expect musicians to display a degree of diversity in their work, and this pressure to branch out can prove many a bands undoing. It's a grey area not often brought up for discussion but, when does an album cease to be an accomplished and varied body of work and instead come across as a bundled together assortment of random ideas? It's a delicate balancing act - especially if the ideas in question are sourced in different genres entirely - and on the whole it's one that Taylor and Kate Hollingsworth don't quite get right on their debut LP as Dead Fingers.

A married couple from Alabama, it's fair to say that this boy-girl duo have more experience than most of their ilk. Taylor has already established himself as a solo artist and is also a prominent member of Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, while Kate has earned her stripes performing as a multi-instrumentalist in sister Maria Taylor's backing band. With their respective backgrounds, it comes as little surprise that they've recorded and album which largely sticks to what they know, but even so the last thing that you could say about this record is that it's one-dimensional. As well as examples of that you'd expect, there are also plenty of nods to the blues, especially in the album's latter half. A handful of tracks even acquit themselves to more visceral rock 'n' roll.

This variation does, however, come at a cost, namely that the record as a whole seems to lack any sense of direction or purpose - and instead sounds like an unfocused, un-thought through representation of the pair's record collections. It's a shame, because for what they're worth, some of these songs are actually quite good. Opener, 'Closet Full Of Bones' is a fine way to begin proceedings, setting out with a wonderful sense of intimacy and glorious vocal harmonies. 'Another Planet,' a significantly more upbeat and playful number which follows is just as lovely, while the electric stomp of 'Against The River,' provides another highlight further down the line. In fact, for all of the albums faults, you'd be hard pressed to find a moment that's anything less than pleasant, and while many of the ideas here are merely decent rather than complete genius, it's apparent that the pair's songwriting talents are more widespread than one may assume.

As it is, though, Dead Fingers' strengths make it all the more unfortunate that they've made a record completely lacking in coherence and structure, and while that may seem a harsh assessment, it does have an adverse effect when consumed as a whole. Some may argue that the potency of individual tracks atones for this issue, and while there's nothing especially outstanding here, such points aren't completely without substance. In this day and age, though, we've come to expect much more than a carelessly compiled collection of seemingly unrelated tracks, and that ultimately is why this is a good record as opposed to a great one.

Official Website


1. Closet Full Of Bones
2. Another Planet
3. 4 Stone Coaches
4. Hold On To
5. Ring Around Saturn
6. Please Don't Let Me Go
7. Against The River
8. On My Way
9. Lost In Mississippi
10. Never Be My Man
11. Wheels And Gasoline

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