Album Reviews

Colin Stetson and Sarah Neufeld – Never Were The Way She Was – Album Review

Colin Stetson

Colin Stetson is a familiar name to many who follow the indie scene, having played with royalty such as Bon Iver and Arcade Fire. He plays the bass saxophone in a wild and mesmeric fashion, making it sound more like a cornered animal than anything traditional. The Saxophone is an instrument still suffering from the damage done to it in the 80s, but Stetson has done as much as any to bring it back from the brink. There is no attempt at perfection in his playing, instead it is replaced with something free form and unstable, like it could pull apart at any moment.

Sarah Neufeld may be a new name to some, but she follows a similar approach to the violin. She is a fellow Canadian and is part of the touring group for Arcade Fire and played on Neon Bible (2007) and The Suburbs (2010).

This new release is quite different from their day jobs, with no typical verse/ chorus arrangements or any predictable structures. It is closer to an ambient album at times, with the saxophone taking on a low drone that rumbles and grates. The first track ‘The Sun Roars into view’ opens with electronic sounds before giving way to a simple violin line, with the saxophone quickly adding to the mix at a furious pace. This arrangement follows on for the entirety of the near eight minutes length, with ghostly vocals added near the end. The majority of the tracks feature only those few simple ingredients to give the album a feel of something quite unique.

This is not the type of album that will capture all listeners, as it is a step away from what would appeal to many. It’s like classical musicians ripped apart and stuck back together in disjointed form. It feels fresh and undomesticated, somewhat barbarous and that can only be a good thing.

Tracklist –

01.The sun roars into view

02. Won’t be a thing to become

03. In the vespers

04. And still they move

05. With the dark hug of time

06. The rest of us

07. Never were the way she was

08. Flight



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