Sometimes you hear a new song and become enamored more with the song than the band itself, possisively playing it exclusively on repeat until I come to be able to anticipate each strummed downstroke, each quiet clap of the tambourine layered in the background. However, I cannot pinpoint just one such song from Great Spirit to be consumed by; rather, it is the entire EP that must be on continuous loop.
A folk-rock quintet from San Francisco, Before the Brave creates music that pulses: pulses with joy, pulses with despair and throbs with hunger, throbs with hope.
The opening track “Holy River” is reminiscent of a hymn: a call, to gather, to awaken, to unite. The track ignites in crisp a capella style, then picks up speed into a rhythmic, guitar-driven pace alternating between layered group harmonies and Jason Perry Steven’s lead vocals, rugged, warm, and wise.
“Hand Holding is Encouraged” follows, a humble yet incredibly majestic song, imploring:
So won’t you hold my hand, across the deserts, seas and foreign lands, that I might forever be to you a man, because I behold you face to face.
Taking the place as the third track in the heat of Great Spirit, “Systems of the Son” is impressive in that it manages to navigate through multiple distinct, arguably contradicting styles with ease, yet all the while maintains a strong sense cohesion throughout. The frenzied, almost frantic feeling characterizing well over the first minute and a half of the song then transitions gracefully into a surprisingly more mellow but yet not at the cost of being aimless.
For the penultimate song of the EP, I started typing lyrics as I listened to include a portion in my post. As I started typing and listening, listening and typing, I found myself unable to find a stopping point. I kept telling myself, “just one line more,” yet each “one ” line more turned into another.
I do not think the disarming simplicity of “Brave Ruth’s” lyrics quite sunk in before I set out to write about this song; however, now I cannot escape its chill:
So break my bones and hold my tongue, shed my skin after all I have done. And you wash my feet in the river so sweet, I’m a wrestling soul trying to find who to be. And I’m looked for days upon days upon nights. I’m sick of the taste of the failure to fight.
“Haven’t a Clue” closes the album. In case you hadn’t been thoroughly impressed by the vocal talents of Jason and Beth by now, Before the Brave ensures that you will not leave this album anything less than mesmerized. It is difficult for me to resist a delicate female harmony floating wistfully above the foundation of a rich male lead’s voice. This song both fulfills and exceeds all of my expectations. *for a hand-clapping, heart wailing, foot stomping time, 2:20 on cannot be missed
In return for your email address and zip code, Before the Brave is offering their EP Great Spirit for free. Download it now from Noisetrade, leave a tip if you like. Stay connected with the quintet on Facebook and Twitter.