RIYLAs Tall As Lions
Band of Horses
Tracklist1. Dressed Like a King
2. Song of Simon
3. The Honest Love.
4. My Melody
5. The World Sings
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The strongest thing a band can do when releasing an EP, regardless of production quality or live stage presence, is to produce a sound that is so unique people will listen whether or not they like what they hear. On a five song, 24-minute record, it may be hard to achieve such a distinct tone and, unfortunately for the Poughkeepsie three-piece Abel, my first thoughts of their The Honest Love EP were of fellow New Yorkers As Tall As Lions.
However, this is actually something that sets the band in good stead for critical reception. As Tall As Lions produce beautiful music, and Abel have certainly managed to write an album worthy of comparison. The Honest Love is one of those rare recordings that actually tells a story, albeit a dramatic love story. The narration flows from the EP title itself to the opening lyrics, “There’s a call to arms / you’re a coward at heart / and it shows all around / there’s a battle at hand / you’re dressed like a king / but your gold weighs you down / so throw off your burden / and be saved,” to the faster-paced title track, “I swam across / I swam across that great divide / between you and I / and how does it feel / how does it feel / to know our love is true?” right through to the closing statement which sees vocalist Kevin Kneifel’s emotion-ridden wail beseeching, “Though I am trying / I am not like Christ at all / Jesus / how beautiful your name / all of creation testifies / and I will do no sinning / I will do this all.”
Musically, Abel have been able to produce something that, although taking few risks and following soaring guitar riffs and closing key harmonies embedded in indie music guidelines, nevertheless proves to indicate both a love of, and a skill in producing, rock music. Having just signed with Dreamt Music / Facedown Records I’m guessing the quality in Abel's production is a new addition to an ensemble with otherwise few flaws to speak of. There is a maturity present that speaks of experience and direction, but also of artists lacking the confidence to follow. However, on the back of this EP and the live shows to present it, it is only a matter of time before that maturity gains confidence.
Overall it is the narration that sells this EP as something unique (even if first impressions aren’t so inspiring). It is refreshing to listen to an album with one solid definitive message, rather than a mix of beautiful one liners tied together with a title that more often than not detracts from the music. So there is the beauty of The Honest Love, it is honest about its intentions, it is written with love and it tells a story, all in only twenty-four minutes. If you’re looking for something more than noise in your music, give The Honest Love a try; it doesn’t take long.