Might as well join The Family
Calling their followers,‘The Family,’ Texas-based band, Folk Family Revival, brothers Mason, Barrett and Lincoln Lankford and friend Caleb Pace, gathered up a new set of tunes while on the road, culminating in their second studio release, Water Walker. The fact they’re dubbed as “rootsy stomp of the Southern states with the trippy swoon of the West Coast” and a “psychedelic folk-country rock and roll band,” alludes not to identity confusion, but the ability to successfully straddle several genres on the same record. Sometimes in the same tune.
Truly careening through many flavors, Folk Family Revival blends traditional and modern for a refreshing sound distinctly their own. The grunge and swagger of “American Standard” evoke hazy 60s/70s era rock, while “Darlin’” includes some fingerpicking guitar, but a distorted voice. “If I Don’t Kill You,” the early-release track from the album, has a fun groove with country roots.
Fusing acoustic and electric guitars, played by lead-guitarist Caleb Pace and singer/guitarist Mason Lankford, facilitates organically blended styles. Instruments have staggered entrances, beginning with lighter acoustic ostinatos, sometimes in stereo, then building in electric guitar, bass (Barrett Lankford) and drums (Lincoln Lankford). Often, the primary patterns introduced at the beginning persist for the duration of the tune. Vocal lines are typically short phrases moving at narrow intervals, a balanced complement to busy layers built around it.
This melodic style coupled with a heavy reliance on layers of repeated ostinatos at times becomes monotonous. “Cotton Dress” begins with a simple arpeggiated acoustic guitar line and voice, then adds drums and electric guitar. A stepwise melody lacking a clear destination and singing prolonged ‘oooos,’ don’t serve a strong purpose. Though the piano fills and backup singers are nice, once all the layers/instruments have entered after just a minute or so, the rest of the tune is a bit blase.
Unlike at other places, layers present in “Trash” are assigned distinct roles, with each voice entering and exiting the fabric accordingly; oscillating between lighter interludes on verses with acoustic guitar and shaker, busy drum fills to underscore the structural phrasing, and full, heavy band on the choruses. More introspective, mid-tempo “Trash” expels, “I stopped being phony a long time ago, but you still don’t know me and the problem with this big old planet is the world that’s in it and I can’t stand it and I don’t get it, oh god dammit I just need some truth or something that’ll last,” sung like a run-on sentence, touches something real.
With so many styles and variations all in one, it’s a wonder Folk Family Revival, in collaboration with producer, Jeffrey Armstreet, can create anything cohesive. But they do exactly this. Built on layers of acoustic and electric and busting out of genre boxes left and right, Water Walker serves up plenty of reasons to join ‘The Family.’