Album: All the Birds EP
Artist: The Western Den
Skip To: Stay the Sun
Backing off from the resolve of Battle Hymns (see previous review), in All the Birds, The Western Den explores a more wistful, mysterious sound. These four golden tracks follow stories of love and loss and introduce beautiful, calculated dynamics throughout.
The lovely relationship between the male and female voices that characterized Battle Hymns also shines right from the beginning track of All the Birds. “Eden” is an eerie, instrumentally dynamic piece that centers around the story of Eve in the Garden of Eden. The song tracks through a slow build at the beginning, only to drop off into a quiet piano accompaniment. Violins kick in and pull the music through a crescendo again. It follows this pattern of crescendo and drop-off three separate times, each building to fuller peak before the ominous, a cappella conclusion.
In “Tumbling Down,” The Western Den contrasts a lighthearted sound with darker lyrics as two partners reflect on how they have become estranged from one another. The song utilizes a variety of plucked string instruments to generate a lighter feel. The guitar is picked rather than strummed and a lovely harp queues in frequently to complement the voices. Piano also echoes throughout and provides a backdrop throughout the song. However, the subsequent track, the largely acoustic “Carter Hall,” presents a contrast to characters of “Tumbling Down” as it tracks a couple that happily grows old together. The song has such an inherent sweetness to it, from the soft vocals to the quiet guitar to the violin that gives the song a subtle folk feel.
The EP wraps up with its fullest song, “Stay the Sun.” Longer than the other tracks, it has even more dynamic contrast than “Eden.” It also allows the instrumentation to tell the story more so than the other tracks and undergoes extended and stunning periods without vocals, playing with minor and major contrast. The harmonies on this piece are absolutely superb as well, and before the quiet, dark, string conclusion, the piece reaches a musical fullness unmatched on the rest of the EP. All the Birds presents a different side of The Western Den’s talents from Battle Hymns but is equally wonderful.