AMERICAN GOTHIC - STEREO STICKMAN - REBECCA CULLEN
Big and bold vibes introduce the Americana stomp and soulful intentions of Stuart Pearson and Hunter Lowry’s new album American Gothic. Far from a simple genre show and tell, however, We Are The Falling Rain soon establishes itself as a structurally creative, folk-kissed blues anthem of poetic intrigue and unity. It’s a powerful and artistic introduction, to a project that speaks volumes on behalf of Pearson’s talent as both performing musician and songwriter.
Ticking Away maintains that unmistakable vocal guidance for a more soulful Western sway of a track – just as poetic and musically creative, blending the past and the possible in a brilliantly interesting fashion. The energy rises, the rhythm tumbles to gather momentum, the acoustic picking juxtaposes the drama for another structural gem of a listen. Always this album skillfully balances vocal character with instrumental prowess, and that’s a huge part of what makes it such an immersive and likable experience.
Cinematic sound-design is a key strength of American Gothic, highlighted once more for the enchanting and spacious Where Are You – a simple yet addictively striking, unsettling but satisfying listen, which proves well-placed as the third song of side one.
From conceptual darkness through Johnny Cash-isms and choir-like waves of calm, American Gothic wholly engages its audience. Melodramatic and distinct in its creativity and poetic scene-setting, the album presents a series of stories, melodies and grooves that manage to feel both familiar and completely incomparable. Lochinvar is a stylishly wonderful example, and the grittier knees-up twang and twist of Cropsey is absolutely another.
American Gothic is an audio adventure not unlike a movie as it plays out in full. The Abandoned Carousel haunts with delicacy, subtle dissonance and terror, to wrap up side one in a totally captivating manner – a stylistic outlier for its alternate vocal lead and horror-inspired musicality.
An ever-memorable The Devil Whammy kicks off side two with its anthemic stomp, before a more sultry bass-led bravado mellows things out for We’ll Meet Again. Then that cinematic superiority takes the reins once more for the compelling scenes of Runaway Girl.
The production throughout this album is superb, what could have easily been simple acoustic blues songs have been elevated by limitless creativity in every case, and it makes for an unmissable and unrivaled display of eclecticism.
3 Feet From a Vein showcases a fine display of precisely these qualities at work – great songwriting raised up by intricate, atmospheric design and poetic depth. The song builds beautifully, unexpectedly, and becomes a natural highlight for its soulfully explosive evolution.
One Old Coyote is the closing song, heartbreaking in its acoustic softness and personal anecdotes, imagery and poignancy meeting with a simple and effective chord pattern and dreamy choir of voices to wrap up the journey with an again unpredictable redirection.
Mighty songwriting and musicianship, unparalleled composition and performance, intriguing and contemplative stories, all uniting both darkness and sheer fun throughout a timelessly enjoyable album of originals. American Gothic is a must for colder months ahead.