REVIEW: Redwood Fields (Singles)

By: Penelope Stevens

Rating 7.5/10

I’ve never written a review before, but I’ve listened to a lot of music, and lot of local music in particular. I don’t know what to include or exclude from this review, but I’m just going to tell you what I think about Redwood Fields’ new singles that were released on June 5th, 2012. Is that okay? Either way, here’s what I think and why:

I really like these songs. I like them because I don’t feel any shame in listening to them on repeat all day, and they haven’t gotten old yet. They feel familiar but fresh, comfortable but demanding.

“I Met You First” is a drone-ballad with a guitar tone that is easy to admire. The song creeps along with an endearing limp; a determination that builds into chaos that’s inviting rather than exhausting. Heather Ogilvie’s backing vocals are, of course, perfect. Her haunting voice was one of the most notable aspects of The Slate Pacific, and I’m glad to hear those subtle harmonies once again. The drumming is simple but appropriate. I would have enjoyed bigger build-ups and more dramatic let-downs from the rhythm section, although each part of the song was distinct. To finish, Cedric draws the listener in with his final lines that seem almost like an after-thought he just couldn’t shake. The clean guitar brings the song back to its apartment on Earth, after a short flight over the moon.

“Your Lines” has an attractive synth tone with a progression that’s very easy to latch on to. Brendan Magee’s synth has Canadian Indie Rock written all over it – I think Chad VanGaalen would smile at the sound. The back-and-forth gendered vocals remind me of a romance novel that was never written, but that I think I’d like to read. I might have a bias regarding male/female vocal interplay, but I think they are especially striking in this song. “Time is never on our side” was rightfully chosen as the lyrical pinnacle; those words stand alone as an understated chant for the masses. It might have been interesting to see some non-gimmicky gang vocals at certain points, especially as the song builds to its peak. I also would have enjoyed more intricacies within the lead vocal melodies. Simplicity is great, but happy accidents can add appeal when done in taste. Although I mentioned admiration for the guitar tone, I think for future releases that Redwood Fields would benefit from guitar experimentation in both tone and song structuring.

Both “I Met You First” and “Your Lines” are simple. There are few things in these songs that I don’t understand. The thing that I don’t understand is how songs this meek and unassuming can send such a strong and ingenious message.

In summary:

When I listen to these songs, I imagine a late night get-together in a dimly lit apartment in Fredericton; just a few friends spending an evening together, is all. I imagine everyone has had a couple of drinks and are feeling sentimental; I imagine a lot of plants in the corners of the living room, and a fuzzy cat napping on the slumping couch’s armrest. These friends have just finished an Elliott Smith record, and vinyl lays scattered on the floor.

A guitar is located, and Cedric is volunteered as apartment minstrel. As he begins alone, soon everyone finds an instrument to join in with. What results is a really good memory and songs that are both circumstantial and timeless. I don’t mean to say that these songs seem unorganized or unplanned. I just mean that the next time I am at a get-together of this nature, I know exactly what I will put on the stereo.

These songs come from the heart. Redwood Fields knows how to create a soundtrack for a perfect evening in, not a complicated masterpiece for robotic recital.

 Check out the singles here:

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