by Kris Handel (@khandel84)
On their debut self-titled album, Dusk, take us on a trip back to some folk inflected roots via the garage and a bit of a punk spirit. There’s a bit of an older feel in many ways to this record and there are moments that recall a bit of Gram Parsons-esque classicism. Dusk are not stuck in the past however as there is a freshness and vitality in these songs that keeps everything firmly planted in the here and now. They are truly adept at putting their own unique spin on a bit of country-folk tradition with some interesting musical interplay and moments of playful exuberance.
“Stained Blue” opens the album with jangling guitar fills and swooping bass that eventually gives way to soaring slide guitar complimented nicely by harmonized vocals, which leads to a bit of a country-inflected Byrd-sian feel to the song. “Stained Blue” does a nice job introducing the different layers of sound Dusk trade in, ranging from jangly pop-psych to leisurely folk. “Yelling Your Name” provides a punchy bit of garage rock into the mix through some tidy keyboard work and ringing guitars pushing everything along. “Eyes in Dark Corners” contains some of the more powerful vocal work in it’s somewhat ominous outlook and uncertain emotionality.
The latter half of the record has a bit more of a leisurely tone and it’s where some tasteful country ballads with Julia Blair taking on the lead vocal duties, most notably “Leaf”. Blair and bandmates stretch out a little as the hum of an ever-present organ pierces the drifting soundscape the feeling of laying stretched out in a sun-drenched field. “Old Magnolia” is a beautiful retreat of that recalls some of that Gram Parsons influence in the swooping twang of the vocals and pedal steel guitar. “Old Magnolia” also introduces some violin work that adds a new texture to the performance and adds some call and response with the pedal steel that really brightens the atmosphere.
Dusk do their best to transport you to a different space where you can let go of some of your worries and just get lost in the sway of the world around you. There’s a sense of familiarity and intimacy throughout the entire record and Dusk clearly want to welcome you with open arms to their musical journey. The scope that is covered on this record is large and ever changing and it’s nice to see a band that’s willing to explore some new directions that push forward tradition rather than sticking to the tried and true. There is a warmth of spirit in this record that is refreshing and makes it a good late-Spring/Early Summer record to keep around for your listening pleasure.