Review – “Phantoms & Friends EP” – Old Man Canyon

reviewed by Laura Stanley a0488887138_2

Travel to the depths of Old Man Canyon and what do you find? Hearty folk songs made with a warm tonal palette and lyrics that have hints, as the first track suggests, of their own wisdom are what echo off the basin’s walls of Jett Pace’s (cool name) creation.

On the direct surface, the songs from the Phantoms & Friends EP are, put simply, friendly and catchy folk songs. Bridging the familiar traditions of the genre with a new flair that the contemporary face of folk embodies. The only real dangers of discovering Old Man Canyon is when you slip into the feelings of familiarity and ease created by the five songs, not realizing that  a few days have drifted by because you were under the Canyon’s shroud.

The gentle musing of how time will heal relationships is the starting point of Phantoms & Friends EP. Recently featured on the Showtime series Shameless, “Wiser” is one of the more stripped down songs from the EP. Here, Pace employes an up-tempo “indie-folk” sound, one that is mirrored in the later track, “The Road.” In both instances, the strength of Pace’s melodies are enough to make listeners swoon while the multi-layer vocal effects on both songs provide a welcomed fullness.

The final song, “In The Rain” and an earlier number “Take Me Higher,” are both weighed by an unassuming strength, situated in the EP in a way that magnifies their qualities and those of the songs around them. “In The Rain” features an instrumental atmosphere that perfectly matches the lyrical content of the song, highlighted by a wandering violin sound for a strong EP sendoff. Though it seems that “Take Me Higher” drifts on by with it’s simple lulling beat and light piano addition, as the successor for the EP’s stunner title track, an uncomplicated break is necessary.

Surrounded by the mentioned acoustics, “Phantoms and Friends” explores different soundscapes from those of the other songs, permeating the spaces left by the rest of the EP’s offering. As it unfolds, a more textured sounding violin appears in the bridge, a dreamy effect covers Pace’s vocals, and a big communal sounding chorus, which is interesting because Pace is the only credited musician on the EP, that reminded me of “The High Road” on first listen, sends the Phantoms & Friends EP to a new place.

Rather give way to uncertainty or melancholy, to come out of the other side of Old Man Canyon will bring willing listeners fulfillment and the belief that perhaps it is, as the title track suggests, best to “just laugh and let it go.”

Top Tracks: “Phantoms and Friends,”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*

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