Gem Club – In Roses

Gem Club - In Roses

Gem Club – In Roses

Somerville, Massachusetts is home to the ivory polishing trio, Gem Club. Singer/songwriter and founder, Christopher Barnes angelically ushers listeners in with whole body swells, mystical cavern-esque vocals, and echoey instrumentation sure to allow for some hefty introspection or at least a soothing ambience on a backcountry drive. Formed at the end of 2009/beginning of 2010 Barnes and cello player, Kristin Drymala self-released an EP entitled, Acid and Everything in 2010 and after that were quickly signed to Hardly Art, a sub label to Sub Pop Records where they released their first full length, Breakers in September of 2011. Ieva Berberian was added as the female vocal part shortly before the drop of Breakers. Their newest release via Hardly Art, In Roses, is a slight maturation from the minimalist feature that Breakers was, but hardly breaking away from the previous stream. This record was recorded at John Vanderslice’s San Fran studio with the brilliant producing hands of Minna Choi.

As a listener, one is quickly assimilated into a marvelously reflective state, both lyrically and musically. The track, “Michael” is a heart-wrenching revelation, which leaves emotional residue on the auditory vessel. The string arrangements are full and flowing as one would expect to revel in, considering the overall atmosphere, but quite frankly the minimal touches throughout the feature lack a sense of rhythm necessary for a wider audience range. Flowing gently alongside its counterpart, Breakers, the track, “Speech of Foxes” is melancholy in sonic quality, but in power I believe it is the most potent track on GC’s full-length with a bit more emphasis on space and the gravity of the lyrics. The eerie low frequency piano meshed with a bit more synthesized noise pushes the lyrics and Barnes’s more poetic nature to the forefront. “Fall in to the weight of the ship and the rush coming in please come on let the salt water give” singes the skin with its bare facedown qualities.

“Braid” redeems some of the minimalist strains with some half time snare hits and clangs on the ride cymbal, which is a redemptive note on this album. The echoes of the keys percussively ringing out with the melodies of Barnes and Berberian successfully showcase what I believe to be Gem Club’s true home. In Roses is blooming but I don’t believe it has quite flourished. Barnes voice is superbly situated and ready to launch but needs a bit more instrumentation and diversity of sound before Gem Club can fully sit unblemished in the garden. There is a lot of sheer talent between the trio though and through all the cello-ridden and ambient piano swelling beauty there is real potential. Introspectively speaking, there are few albums, which allow the listener to fully enter into the complexity of inner-thought. Cheers on that note, no doubt. Be looking for more from this group in the future. They are flexible in their talent and they are not finished.

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