When a songwriter writes about home, it’s often through a lens of nostalgia and warmth. One will always associate the best of times with one’s home, including all associations; where was it? Who lived there? Who were you friends with? Banded Stilts tackles this emotional subject matter on Little Village, their debut EP.
Making the home a little village and not a big city gives it an extra kick of romanticism. Over the course of these nine folk and folk-pop tunes, Brad Lannon and company wax poetic about special women (“Gloria”), the beauty of nature (“Stars Go Down”) and, of course, not wanting to leave that special place called home (“Leave a Light”).
Though the album says that it dabbles outside of the folk genre, Haley’s voice doesn’t bring to mind anything but. That’s not meant as a criticism; the type of storytelling that this album uses fits best when the stories are told through folk music. “The End of February” opens the album on a wistful note, with a pretty piano introduction before the wail of the pedal steel comes in. “Leave a Light” is the aforementioned “leaving home song,” made especially sad with lines like “I’ll be home again someday.” Everyone knows “someday” usually means “not for a long time.”
The band head out to sea for two songs, one of which is actually called “Out on the Sea,” a song heavy with an orchestral sound. The other is “The Squid and the Ghost Town,” a song characterized by the combination of mandolin, banjo and accordion and told almost like a ghost story, with a line that says “It scared the shit out of me.”
The pair of record highlights are “Gloria” and “Wading Bird.” The former strips the instruments away to little more than a piano in a moving ode to a woman. The latter is easily the most majestic track on the album, which soars thanks to the horn and percussion-driven melody.
Whether you’re from a big city or a little village, Banded Stilts speaks warmly of the experience of going back home.
Top Tracks: “Gloria”: “Wading Bird”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)