An indie-folk country-rock fusion that conjures images of noirish cowboys and rainclouds over Death Valley
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If you find yourself dreaming of wild horses, and the vast grasslands of untamed Nebraska, then it’s likely Joana Serrat is already on the edge of your ears. A rustic Spanish troubadour with a taste for the expansive, Serrat plays country-folk at its most Pink Floyd. With three full albums behind her, each more dreamy than the last, fourth album ‘Dripping Springs’ has taken the plunge into full-blown cinematic. Big, broad and brooding, it’s like The War on Drugs penning a soundtrack to Fistful of Dollars with vocals from a Rivendell songstress.
The album is built on a warm wave of guitars. Serrat’s strumming acoustic is the rudder, anchoring the songs and keeping them moving. But around that solid base Serrat and producer Israel Nash have built a veritable soundscape of guitar tones. Opener ‘Cold Western Wind’ shows this off nicely. Echoing chords, Ennio Morricone spasms, Neil Young twang and caressing slide guitars all working together for glorious crescendo. Serrat’s vocals only add to the dizzying mix, heavily reverbed and lathered in sweet harmonies. ‘Dripping Springs’ isn’t so much dreamy as constructed to sound like a dream.
It’s not all about effects. Tracks like the softer ‘Keep On Fallin’ or the upbeat organ-dominated ‘Come Closer’ are more stripped back, and show the more traditional side to Serrat’s songwriting. But the album’s at its best when it’s at its biggest. ‘Trapped in the Fog’ takes cues from Of Monsters and Men, and has the same earnest longing that marks out Serrat’s style. But the interplaying guitars inject a huge, sweeping elegance to the track. With just Serrat’s vocals and acoustic, it’d be a perfectly pleasant ballad. With that platoon of guitars pulling their weight, it becomes a lavish country epic. It reaches a head in ‘Shadows of Time’, as brisk as the west wind and complete with a soaring psychedelic outro.
With each of her albums, Joana Serrat goes deeper. Her vocals become more desperate, the songs become more intricate and the scope grows. This is the first of her albums that could be described as huge. An indie-folk country-rock fusion that conjures images of noirish cowboys and rainclouds over Death Valley. Ideal for night driving, or perhaps night riding, through breath-taking wilderness vistas, and for dreaming of natural wonders.