It's tough to tell if this debut album from a Connecticut band headed
by a school teacher might be a concept album. Nearly half of the 12
songs are named for the devil, and the others are rife with images
of God, death, and the afterlife, but any thematic device uniting
them in meaning remains too loose to pin down. In "What The Devil
Wants The Devil Takes" it sounds like singer-songwriter Daniel
Greene is reaching for something meaningful with lines like "I
used to talk to God alone in my backyard / I was hoping to see a fire
in a tree," but beyond the obvious Christian imagery it's unclear
what he's trying to tell the listener.
It's also tough to pin down a style, although that difficulty isn't
nearly as problematic. At times We've Walked in Hell
reminds of The Beatles, but more often it's a sort of Of
Montreal without daring. Ultimately, Greene lacks the vocals to
deserve comparison to either artist, though, and when, on "This
Last Hope", he bleats out "This last hope somehow vanished
down inside / when the one before that lasted such a very long time,"
it becomes clear that The Mountain Movers' strengths must lie
somewhere other than vocals or lyricism.
Those strengths are easily found in the musicians (there are more
than a dozen beyond Greene), who lend vibrant textures to the album.
The keys, violin and horns that power the chorus of "I Met The
Devil On A Bus" are beautifully played and the parts well-conceived.
The horns at times burst into songs with a sense of relief and respite
akin to the first sun beams of springs. Between Peter Wasilewski
on sax and trombonist Chris Rhodes, players on We've
Walked in Hell
have also performed with heavy-hitters like
Less Than Jake, The Toasters and The Mighty Mighty
Bosstones. It's fair to call them ringers, and they come through
for The Mountain Movers, lending Memphis soul to the burning "Bombshelter"
and a haunting wave of ominous doubt to "The Devil is Alive."
None of the other performances are bad either, but delicate keys,
spacey pedal steel and solid rhythms can't make up for Greene's shortcomings
as a singer and songwriter. It's unfortunate, because it's clear that
if we could hear what these musicians were trying to say, it would
likely be worth listening too.
1. Leave A Light On
3. I Met The Devil On A Bus
4. This Last Hope
6. What the Devil Wants The Devil Takes
7. The Devil Is Alive
8. The Afterlife
9. This Man Is Not Yet Dead
10. Not Quite Yet
11. Just a Few
12. The Devil Always Wins
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