27 – Songs from the Edge of the Wing EP

Songs from the Edge of the Wing EP

Songs from the Edge of the Wing is a nice, seven-song EP that shoots for a quiet majesty with hushed vocals and restrained playing. It was originally issued by Reproductive Records and was re-issued last spring by Release Entertainment. It is beautifully packaged and nice and concise. 27 obviously take this stuff seriously; the songs are well thought-out and professionally executed. Instruments come in to pick up where others leave off, and they all work to create and sustain a mood. Considerably more than a demo, this is a well-crafted introduction to the group who now has a full-length disc out on Kimchee Records.

The songs mostly move along at or just under mid-tempo, and the focus is on singer Maria Christopher’s voice, formerly of the Dirt Merchants, which isn’t always audible enough. That becomes a liability at times. They do manage to make the ones that poke out nicely fitting. “It’s a slow fade,” she sings on “Easy Trigger.” The songs are un-cluttered, and each instrument has its own place in the overall sound.

“Bird of Paradise” has the most engaging vocal delivery, but the lyrics are frustratingly difficult to make out. It creates a nicely restrained tension as the song manages to push forward and pull back simultaneously. “The Lone Mariachi” has a Middle-Eastern feel and is driven by a dancing tambourine. It also makes nice use of a sample and a bass line that the rest of the instruments freely rotate around. “Warm Hands, Cold Heart” is almost a torch song, with its brushed snare drum and piano.

The most frustrating drawback is that Songs from the Edge of the Wing never really builds any momentum. The album feels a bit too over-thought, too consciously constructed. At times, it can lack any real excitement. The biggest exception is the fantastic “Great Broad Valley.” With quietly distorted guitar, burbling feedback, and the album’s best chorus, this song has the quiet head of steam that the others strive to achieve. It’s one of those great songs you used to hear on the radio in the mid-90’s, like Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You,” or put on a mix tape you’re making for someone that you’re really starting to like. It makes you nostalgic in a really welcome way.

“The Feathered Serpent” is a herky-jerky instrumental that would have worked better earlier in the album. Instead it’s a bit of a let down. “Danger Bird,” a Neal Young cover, closes the album. The guitar solo that dominates the song makes thinks sound oddly empty. The music is much more effective when the band members work off of each other and focus on the overall atmosphere. With one instrument soloing, the sound seems to lose its foundation. Still, despite some forgivable missteps, 27 manages to create a thoroughly listenable set of songs that don’t overstay their welcome and make you hopeful for what they’ll do next.