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o’death – Out Of Hands We Go

Northern Spy

o’death - Out Of Hands We GoHaving returned to a simpler production sound for their fourth album, odeath opted to record Out Of Hands We Go’s twelve songs live in the studio with Caleb Mulkerin at the controls. With Greg Jamies vocals burning brightly at the band’s heart, odeath bring rock and country instrumentation into close collaboration, mixing in many particular devices of their own devising or finding which they have acquired over the years. Theirs is a unique, immediately identifiable sound, and o’death are a band who make and move to their own different tunes.

So fiddle bows and banjo plucks are as likely to carry the interwoven melodies as an electric guitar and the signature distortion which often flecks the emotive vocals, offset by the crackle and hum of electrical amplification, ghostly echo trails or the clank of chains; and if the drums sometimes sound like they might have been assembled from a collection of household goods and odds and ends, there’s no shame in that. This DIY ethos is captured extremely well by Mulkerins engineering, each instrument sounding fresh and alive rather than over-produced and sanitised in the process.

Gritty without being grungy, Out Of Hands We Go mixes melancholic songs with those where the emotion glows fiercely. Excellent examples are the mournful, mordant song of hurt and loss, “Heal in the Howling” and impassioned fiddle-led stomper “Isavelle”, which is bound to become a firm live favourite. Songs vary from crisply-recorded to those where the tape hiss has been left in to provide texture, as on the grimly-titled “Go And Play With Your Dead Horses,” one of an-often lyrically bleak album’s more sinister moments, and fragment “When My Dog Gets Out, Let Him Run.”

Even more than on their previous records, this dynamic approach suffuses Out Of Hands We Go with a sense of a compendium of twelve tales of personal experience, for bitter or worse, expressed poetically in a form that is shaped by the band’s chosen approach as much as it is by Jamie’s evocative wordsmithery. Even the slower, sadder numbers like “We Had A Vision” are packed with a time-defying energy, and one of o’death’s enduring charms is that even though their instrumentation may be vintage and idiosyncratic, they never let the fact tie them to being in any way retro or kitsch, even when as on “Apple Moon” they lift up their spirits with a spirited round of folk rock. Rather their music is of its own special place and era, each slightly at a tangent to the rest of the world.

-Richard Fontenoy-

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