I’m not usually a fan of bluegrass and, aside from a few songs by Patsy Cline or The Dixie Chicks, I’m not a big country listener. That’s why I was so surprised by how much I liked Saskatoon-based Slow Down, Molasses’ album “I’m An Old Believer”. With their lo-fi production and occasional shoegaze stylings, this 6-piece band managed to blur the line between these genres and contemporary indie rock to create a fine album that’s as accessible as it is listenable.
One thing that sets this album apart from the pack is that the focus tends to be more on the instrumentals than the lyrics. On many tracks, the vocals are so quiet that you need to crank the volume if you want to figure out what the song is even about. Funnily enough, this doesn’t hurt the album at all. It’s almost as though, by quieting the vocals, the band turned them into just another instrument. The sound of the voice becomes more important than the message. Whether this was intentional or not, it definitely made for an interesting effect, especially “Slow Motion”, which manages to sound heartfelt and melancholy with or without its almost whispered lyrics.
Another one of the album’s strengths is the variety of instruments that it puts to good use. Some of the instruments are more common (e.g. the guitar, the banjo, the violin), while others aren’t typically heard in contemporary music (e.g. the organ, the toy piano), but Slow Down, Molasses combines them in a way that is both creative and unexpectedly harmonious.
But in spite of the creative use of vocals and instruments, there are points when the album starts to sound repetitive. Some songs seem so similar that it becomes hard to differentiate between them, which can be considered either a sign of consistency, lack of diversity, or both. I’m inclined to go with the last option.
If you’re looking for an album for sticky summer days spent indoors, or for breezier ones spent outside, this quiet, genre-bending album might be an album to check out. And if you’re the type that typically doesn’t listen to country or bluegrass, this just might be the album to convert you.
Top Tracks: “Slow Motion”; “I’m An Old Believer”; “And You With It, Speck of Dust”
Rating: Strong Hoot