The title of the record metaphorically says it all. The sophomore
LP effort by Swedish quartet Amandine is a collection of tracks
that seem made to comfort the troubled spirit of a much strained soul.
And while this description seems quite melodramatic, once you listen
to Solace In Sore Hands, it will seem fitting. Each track is
drenched in acoustic sorrow and feature vocals that are more or less
cried out but by a weak and quiet singer.
Fittingly, the mellow nature of the album fits Amandine's musical
style that seems to want to imitate classic American folk music. And
they succeed in that respect. Each track features the standard acoustic
guitar, light percussion and storytelling lyrics that lawn concerts
and vinyl records are known to be home to, but in regards to originality,
the album suffers a great deal. While Amandine has done a decent job
of copying American folk, they have also created an album that just
lacks excitement. Going too far with the acoustic guitar, the album
lacks any real punch, and while none of the songs are terrible (or
even mediocre), none of them are that interesting either.
This sounds like a collection of closers. You all know what I mean.
About 75% of all the albums ever made end with that one particularly
soft and introspectively thoughtful track that concludes the album,
leaving the listener to ponder the deeper meaning of the record. It's
those kinds of songs that Solace In Sore Hands sounds completely
composed of. Once again, that's not necessarily a bad thing. The album
does have some modest high points, like the mellow ragtime that spices
up "Our Nameless Will", and the impressively metaphoric
lyrics of "Iron Wings", but these just don't add the excitement
that the record needs. I'm no expert on folk music, but after listening
to Solace In Sore Hands, I can't help but still be hungry.
Amandine strike a nice chord in "Shadow and Grief" when
they bring out a violin and on "Standing In Line" which
boasts the much appreciated rustic playing of a harmonica, and I wish
that they only expanded on their usage of these instruments throughout
the rest of the album.
Most of the songs sound only half-finished and it's a shame, because
with a little work and some more variety, Solace In Sore Hands
might have been a not just good album, but possibly a great one. If
they can get passed the overtly heavy-handiness of the material and
try to beef up the much too sickly vocals, then Amandine might actually
be able to embody the classical folk they are trying oh so hard to
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