Monday, February 18, 2008

Soulsavers – It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you probably haven’t ever heard a band that sounds anything like Soulsavers. Odds are, this is the only band out there with the ability to combine gospel, hip hop, classic rock, country, and post-rock into a sound that drips with feeling and emotion.

It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land opens with “Revival,” a tune that combines church organ and industrialized drums into the backdrop for gut-wrenching gospel vocals. Singer Mark Lanegan channels Tom Waits and Johnny Cash with huge success. His soothing yet abrasive croon draws you in, while the lyrics grab you and keep you engaged until the song draws to a close.

“Ghosts of You And Me” utilizes a backdrop of eerie guitar noises to showcase thick hip-hop beats similar to those of rapper and producer Madlib. To say “Ghosts of You and Me” has an infectious groove would be a gross understatement. If you can listen to this song without shaking your head or tapping your foot, you must not be human. “Paper Money” is perhaps the only song known to man to ever successfully integrate hip-hop, western blues, and guitar driven rock. The choruses burst with an energy one might hear in a Jimi Hendrix Experience jam session, while the verses smolder with steaming hot drum beats.

Instrumental track “Ask the Dust” rides on a solid drum and bass groove while a piano adds sparse embellishments. Guitars are gradually layered in, and the thick result sounds like it would fit well on an album by Black Heart Procession. The band’s cover of “Spiritual” by Josh Haden is a glimmering post rock masterpiece, a la Explosions In The Sky. Vocalist Lanegan does it again, with his simple lyrics and melody adding a new dimension to a song which otherwise would sound flat and predictable.

“Kingdoms of Rain” is a song meant to be sung by men on a chain gang. Mark Lanegan’s depressed drawl drags behind it the sounds of piano and acoustic guitar as a vapor trail of strings follows.

All of the tracks on It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land have both musical and lyrical roots in religion. However, Soulsavers avoid the clichés of many concept albums of the past by not winding the theme too tightly. The band leaves room for the songs to breathe, and any single song stands on its own very well. In that sense, the listener is allowed to create his or her own concept for the album, a feature which will likely keep people coming back for more.

This is not just an album. It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s How You Land is a story told with vivid detail. The common medium of vocal communication has been morphed into a series of soundscapes that tell an extremely gripping story about a fascinating dynamic character. The specifics of the story are left out, allowing the listener to fill in the blanks on their own, opening the floodgates for scores of different interpretations.


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