Maybe it’s a cliché but albums written when there is genuine love, some desperation or destitution normally become classics. The content becomes personal and the subject matter is usually a voyeuristic insight into the artist’s life. You can be certain that the recording of such an album contained no Caribbean recording studio, bowls of blue-only M&M’s and A-list celebrity guest performances. Instead this is replaced by passion, a sense of humbleness and an overwhelming ambition to create something personal, and not for money or sponsorship deals.
“Order of the Arrow” was written and recorded with all three of the above foundations being a factor and because of this it is one of the most beautiful and compelling albums you’ll hear in 2013.
The story of Blessed Feathers is a unique and fascinating one and to understand the album you have to understand how Donivan Berube and Jacquelyn Beaupre got to this point. So … sit back, put your feet up, make a nice cup of something warm and allow me to explain …
Back in 20122 Florida native, Donivan Berube, disassociates himself from the church of Jehovah’s Witnesses (and therefore his entire family, forever … it’s the way it works with those guys), packs his life into a tiny car, and drives 36 hours north into a Wisconsin blizzard. Six months later he meets Jacquelyn Beaupre and Blessed Feathers are formed. The duo spends two weeks living in a shifty barn (note the word shifty and not shitty) in upstate New York to record their first studio session, culminating in the “Peaceful Beasts in an Ocean of Weeds” EP.
In the winter of 2012 Donivan proposes to Jacquelyn onstage in front of 600 people at Milwaukee’s Turner Hall Ballroom. People think this is sort of cute and the video of the proposal is uploaded to the internet before they’re even done playing. She obviously says yes. After quitting their jobs and shoving their apartment into a tiny storage unit, Blessed Feathers take off on a four-week US/Canada tour with Mount Moriah and the Cave Singers. They are now officially homeless.
Returning to upstate New York, they record their first studio LP with Producer Kevin McMahon (Real Estate, The Walkmen, Titus Andronicus). Doug Keith, who also plays with Sharon Van Etten, plays guitar on the LP. After wrapping the album, they left for a six-week National Park tour. They are now living out of their tent, and apparently “loving it”.
And so to the album. “Order of the Arrow” is a timeless piece of music. Beautiful guitars and blues melodies that almost take a back seat to the amazing vocal performances across the 11 tracks. In fact vocally there appear to be no rules as both Berube and Beaupre interchange to produce moments of such beauty you listen in utter awe. This is everything the Civil Wars self-titled second album should have been.
The single “Real Song for Emily” is obviously a stand-out track. The tracks incredible acoustic guitars and harmonies are magnificent. “Leedo Ceedo” enables Beaupre to flex her vocal chords and the banjo and percussion give the song a real bluegrass feel. It’s tremendous stuff.
While “Speaking Portuguese” disappoints (it’s almost as though the Kings of Leon have stepped into the studio) the remainder of the album is of the highest quality. The stunning “Everyone I love is You” is the perfect way to finish this LP … containing stories of kitchen mishaps and chocolate, its tongue in cheek lyrics can’t disguise its beauty.
The albums full track listing is as follows…
2. Speaking Portugese
3. Wide World
4. Real Song for Emily
5. Salvation Army
6. Pickin’ Strawberries
7. Leedo Ceedo
8. Pinecones & Children’s Gold
9. Hey! Mother Nature
10. From The End of August Till The Start Of May
11. Everyone I Love Is You
Download: Leedo Ceedo, Real Song for Emily
Rating: 4.5 out of 5