It was only a matter of time before Baby Eagle found his Mothers. While his previous album Dog Weather teetered more toward the side of folk, this has a little more of a rock influence. That isn’t surprising, considering the musicians that make up Baby Eagle’s “nest” are members of Attack in Black, among others.
That some Attack in Black people are involved probably shouldn’t surprise you, considering Spencer Burton and Ian Kehoe have strong ties to You’ve Changed Records, which Steve Lambke (the main man behind Baby Eagle) helped found.
As this new album would suggest, Bone Soldiers has a fixation with army stuff. There are song titles like “Rebel Crimes” and “Marching Orders,” the former of which mentions soldiers with bullet wounds. What the bone soldiers are exactly, I haven’t quite figured out, but the image is pretty creepy to say the least.
With the Proud Mothers at his side, Lambke’s music has become a little more rock-oriented, though it’s very obvious that Lambke’s personal touch hasn’t vanished. He still sings with the slight rasp that might be a dealbreaker for some listeners. He sometimes sounds like an old man rambling. I don’t think I’ve ever described a musician like that before.
The album is book-ended by two pieces with heavy, distorted guitar: “Bone Soldiers” and “Hurricane Season,” respectively. The songs are a little thrilling, though hearing the end of “Hurricane Season” without feeling like you’re getting a headache is an accomplishment.
The guitar sound gets cleaned up a little for “Strange Bodies” and becomes absolutely beautiful in “Brave Women.” Lambke’s vocals also seem to get progressively quieter up until “Marching Orders” where he gets a lot more lively. The song is full of declarations, such as “But we know love is a mongrel thing; a mix of chance and cross spirits.”It’s also got a mind-blowing instrumental solo later on.
Bone Soldiers seems overall to be a record of transition. There is still some of the old Baby Eagle circa Dog Weather evident in some of the songs in the middle of the album, but the introduction of the more-prominent electric guitar adds a different dimension. It will be interesting to see where (last eagle joke, I swear) Baby Eagle flies off to next (and knowing the work ethic of the You’ve Changed folk, we’ll probably be finding out sooner rather than later).
Bone Soldiers is now out via You’ve Changed.
Top Tracks: “Brave Women”; “Marching Orders”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)