Secret Meeting score: 77
by Phil Scarisbrick
Before actually hearing this record, what little I could find about the band online focussed in on front woman – Katie Hammon – and her vocals. By the end of the first chorus on album opener, Winter Caps, it was easy to see why they were revered. This mid-paced stomper evokes some of Florence and the Machine’s most radio-friendly hits, with its booming drums providing a grand backdrop to introduce that voice.
Although at times the sound seemingly aspires to have an epic tone, it actually feels more like it is being played in your front room.The lo-fi instrumentation offers a friendly soundtrack that is very easy to connect with. I Begin‘s sparse, tremolo-drenched guitar opening offers just enough anchorage for Hammon’s ever-sublime vocal to take hold. The dual vocals that follow are spine-shiveringly ernest. Grown‘s interesting dynamic intersperses folky finger-picked guitars with staccato licks that wouldn’t be out of place on Arctic Monkeys’ Humbug.
Wash Over Me is one of three singles on the record and is a beautiful nugget of folk-pop that would be perfectly at home on Soccer Mommy’s tremendous record, Clean, from earlier this year. Snake in the Grass follows and is a surefire highlight on the album. Once again, the mid-paced tempo allows Hammon’s voice to work its magic while the sumptuous guitar work that is littered throughout the LP once again adds real pathos to what is going on here.
In a time when people like Laura Veirs, Lucy Dacus, Anna Burch and the aforementioned Soccer Mommy have all released albums to critical aclaim, Bear Grass deserve to be included in that company. Their tightly-honed sound provides the perfect backdrop for the hugely emotive vocals that instantly hook you. Do yourselves a favour and check out this fine collection as soon as you can.