Dancing Hymns And Broken Rhymes

Artist : The Cotton Field Scarecrowes

Genre : Folk

NORMALLY it would be hard to stomach a homegrown band attempting to add Stateside flavour by naming its songs after faraway US cities that hold no significance to listeners here. But the Sultan brothers, Johann and Shahrhyl, play their brand of Americana folk with such unbridled conviction that you could easily forgive them for a tune titled Letter From Tennessee.

As The Cotton Field Scarecrowes, the duo has crafted a highly romanticised album that reflects the group’s music outlook and backporch dreams.

Opener Grass Beneath The Petals sets the tone of the record perfectly, a song with a strong hymnal presence.

Tracks like Flower Child and On A Shoestring capture a stark yet beautiful lo-fi landscape unheard in these parts.

Not many local albums can boast such blissful blues-folk framings. With an arsenal of vintage and rare recording equipment at their disposal, the Ipoh/Shah Alam-raised half brothers have gone through a rather painstaking process of trying to create an album (eight tunes) that’s displaced from time, and they’ve succeeded for the most part.

It’s somewhat disorientating to believe that each guitar lick, brush of a snare and horn line here has been made in these modern times. Such is the duo’s fiercely holistic focus to this recording process.

The crisp guitar playing across this album brings to mind unsung Americana guitarist David Rawlings, while early Iron & Wine haunts the corners here.

It would also be somewhat lazy to reference The Cotton Field Scarecrowes to American band Fleet Foxes, not that the brothers themselves would mind given that they’ve engaged Ed Brooks (who worked on the Fleet Foxes’ debut) to master Dancing Hymns And Broken Rhymes in the United States.

But it is from this comparison that the lessons-to-be-learned also comes to the fore. While Fleet Foxes are magnificent when it comes to vocal range and dynamic instrumentation, The Cotton Field Scarecrowes can sound a little too meandering with its arrangements. But these are minor blemishes to polish out.

The blueprint The Cotton Field Scarecrowes have chosen to build on is already remarkable, so the duo can only get better from here on.

> Contact the band at www.facebook.com/thecottonfieldscarecrowes.

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