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Silt - Cat's Peak

  by Anthony Middleton

published: 10 / 12 / 2008

Silt - Cat's Peak
Label: Fire Records
Format: CD


Rough-edged and leftfield alt.country/avant folk on erratic debut album from Canadian trio, the Silt

The last thing you really expect an alt. country/avant folk album to open with is a deep, dirty funk number. Maybe that’s what makes it alt.. While the groovy bass on 'Come Back to the Willow', may be straight from Detroit, the lyrics are all country pastoral and yearning for the purity of nature. Elsewhere on the Silt’s debut, 'Cat’s Peak', singer Ryan Driver lurches towards a knowing Good Ol’ Boy shitkicking performance, but here he attempts, and largely succeeds, to get a smoother soul voicing, with the help of warm harmonies. This is a contrast to the rest of the album. The next number 'The Twig' is just as bucolic in theme, but the deliver is more country or folk with Driver delivering a more dissonant vocal. This is a motif on the album, namely singing which occasionally makes me think I should have been a pop star after all. The title track (which refers to a mountain top rather than a moggie’s hairline) is a case in point, starting out as a laid back, expertly performed country ballad. Ryan along with the backing vocalists, however, head towards an octave that was never intended for grown, fully functioning men to explore. As with many things like this, it works and is thought provoking, but you are asking a lot of listeners not to wince at every broken missed note. Of course, a vocal with a few frayed edges is wonderful and when it works it’s better than a pitch perfect performance any day – you can get that from any X-Factor contestant. Any young Canadian with guitar in hand and mother nature on his conscience, must have the spectre of Neil Young hovering somewhere over them. This influence is obvious on the Toronto based threesome, as is the other great Canadian proponent of country rock, The Band. On 'Sunlit Cloud', the grinding arpeggiated guitar and the strained, slightly desperate vocals sound enough like something from 'Live Rust' without being derivative. This influence is strong elsewhere, particularly the lushly melodic 'Two Eyes', which has enough rough edges and leftfield effects to keep it distinctive and unsettling. 'Cat’s Peak' is a bit of stop start affair. They accelerate away along a rough, pothole strewn back lane, everything beginning to get out of control, not least the singing. Then someone slams the brake on. We calm down and get something like 'Beautiful Shell', a spare, vulnerable track with a simple acoustic accompaniment and a percussion that sounds like someone shifting furniture around upstairs. Then, the old jalopy is floored again and we head off into 'Twilight in the Morning', a ersatz waltz, with a near spoken, droning vocal.

Track Listing:-
1 Come back To The Willow
2 No Twig
3 Feathershine
4 Cat's Peak
5 Sunlit Cloud
6 Two Eyes
7 Taking A Walk
8 Cocoon
9 Beautiful Shell
10 Twilight In The Morning
11 Lit
12 Ears On The Rail
13 Untitled (Hidden Track)

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