This ‘Cape Snow’ article was written by Dale Lafferty, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Michael Winters Photography
It’s not often you get ‘albums’ nowadays. Ten songs put together to create one body of work. It makes sense to downsize and release singles and EP’s, with shorter attention spans and scarce label advances, it makes sense. For a first release, it’s not often you get a whole album but in the case of Cape Snow, the decision to make an LP was definitely a wise one.
The enchantment that is Cape Snow comes from a Los Angeles based singer named Bree Scanlon, and a New England based band called ‘Tiger Saw’. Over the course of many years, Scanlon would record melodies on her phone, then Dylan Metrano and Guy Capecelatro from Tiger Saw wrote lyrics to them – performers were then assembled to record the self-titled album ‘Cape Snow’.
The album is a majesty of sound. From the first few bars of the opening song ‘All is Gold’, you are elevated to a place of peace. The textures with all their depth are very original despite the use of very familiar instruments, the strong bass with the low-mid cello and piano create such a weight. Scanlon’s delicate voice dances on top on the layers of instrumentation to form the icing on this musical cake. It’s beautiful and yet quite haunting with a well balanced mix that gives such depth and space. Throughout the song, her voice brings you further and further in with slow attacks, then lingers with you as it slowly decays.
The album continues much like the first song, but there’s subtle variation to keep it interesting – whether it’s decorative rhythms in the upper ranges or just the orchestration you can sink into, it never becomes tedious. With ‘One More Time’, there is still such weight in the low-mids, it’s dark and moody, but soon paired with the most graceful saxophone. The saxophone waltz’s with Scanlon’s voice and creates a joy that the low end of the mix is trying to refuse, but it just works. Scanlon’s harmonies could keep you entertained solely, though they are not always consistent – you can sometimes hear them break away from the typical 3rds and 5ths which are so common today. Listen out for these little gems
Minutes pass unnoticed due to the seamless structure of every song, you become immersed in every sound that passes. It’s quite an achievement to create such an original sound from such to-hand instruments. That is until “I’m Over Love”. This original melody is filled with great contrast, and the mix keeps it warm, it’s as delightful as the rest, but then an out of place programmed kit offers a moment of doubt. It’s a shame to create such honest recordings, only to then to use instrumentation that sounds out of place. This does not fit within the nature of the album, but fortunately it’s brief.
Falling deeper into the album, little charms and surprises catch your attention throughout. The changing instrumentation is noticeable; the trumpet on ‘Amazing’, and the dirty electric guitar on ‘Never Let Go’. There’s a diversity that is present while in keeping with the overall album sound. Even with a variety of organ sounds, in and out piano, and vibraphone, the weighty and moody mix stays prominent. Different sounds feature in each song, but most stay true to this winning formula. One of the best things about this album is the random sounds that are kept in the mix, it’s all well polished, but not too polished. You can hear Scanlon’s lips coming together now and then, and her breathing can sometimes be prominent, this, with fingers sliding across bass strings, and room sound from the drum kit in ’Swoon’, can really exploit the honesty and humanity in the recordings.
The very unpolished ‘Cruel World’ is a good example of the charming sounds that can be picked up, and the sound of the room is revealed at the end with footsteps in the background. The seamlessness is soon resumed after ‘Cruel World’s 48 seconds.
The album ends perfectly with ’Sweet Dreams (Reprise)’. It’s mainly without voice and is an ode to the release. The track is a reminder of the subtle diversity of the album, and the tasteful production. The textures, arrangement and performance continue here as they have throughout, remaining delightful and deep.
This is an album about discovery, you’ll certainly stumble across something new with each listen; it’s filled with detail and is a must have for any music fan who respects the songwriting art-form.