Early in 2011, I wrote about AgesandAges with their Folk-influenced American Rock coming through a bluegrass milieu (review). Late in 2011, the Loom’s Teeth brings back some of that same invitation, albeit more darkly.
The Loom has been referred to as chamber-folk, probably for its instrumentation—one part banjo, one part French horn—all played with intense guitars and percussion. Teeth begins well within that chamber-folk description as “With Legs” rides over Appalachian hills into small town opera houses, setting up horns and stringed instruments, to tell a tale pulled from the very valleys surrounding the town. The mystery yields to the dark barndance second half of the song.
Yet, just as quickly, track two, “The Middle Distance,” with its front-forward percussion, horn rumblings, and scratchy guitar, leaves behind the idea that this Folk-influenced American Rock can be contained in the chamber.
“Helen,” though, brings you back to the folk chamber. Lighter on its feet, the vocal harmonies, almost jazzy horns, and picked strings buoy the listener on a hilltop surrounded by windblown grass and the fading sunlight. Through the middle of the album, the lyrics often seem to evoke feelings rather than tell stories, even as the music evokes yesteryear amid the rock canvas.
“For The Hooves That Gallop, And The Heels That March” shuffles in like soldiers returning from the Civil War, the march and walk recounted in Cold Mountain. The wordless chorus clangs with guitars and horns, bursting with memories of what they have seen. The question hangs over the whole scene: will they be welcomed home as heroes or not? “So for the hooves that gallop, and the heels that march/There will be lights burning/As there will be lights out.” The track is next to last of the album but comes first in the creations here.