Folk artist Joel Henry Little released his third studio album earlier this month. With a total of eight tracks conveying messages of faith, friendship and a dash of interesting mythology, his song-writing style is one of the most unique you will hear in your lifetime. Boasting an eclectic mix of classical, folk, indie, pop and a sprinkling of jazzy chords, this album is certain to intrigue the senses and wonder the mind.
The title track begins the album, and immediately after Little brandishes the first note you can hear classical influences from the greats. To conclude the piece, a long sustained chord was used, contrasting with the song but somehow being a fitting end. Abraham felt like a theme from a sixties sitcom with a prog rock interlude during its middle. What I did notice in this track more so in the others was the lack of light and shade in Little’s vocals. I think this song could have used the contrasting dynamics to make it that much more sophisticated.
The most lyrically catchy song on the album was Mola Molasba, with the lyric ‘let’s stop f***ing ourselves over’ sticking in my brain for a good few minutes afterwards. I also enjoyed the interesting jazzy chords used in the track which gave it more dimension and intrigue. Isha usually would have confounded me because of the continuous changing of rhythms, but the composition of the previous songs built up to it quite nicely making the frequency of rhythmic difference a natural progression. Bye the Bye had some more jazzy chords with a jumpy melody. I was impressed by Little’s vocal prowess in this track because it is no easy feat to hit notes far apart from each without becoming pitchy.
I enjoyed the use of harpsichord in the first part of Butter and Brine but found myself wondering what the point was of using so many different sounding instruments in one song. Although it warms my heart to hear song-writers experimenting with such eclectic instrumentation I think it would have been best to stagger this enquiry throughout the album. I felt that Giglamesh was quite comical, like it was composed to accompany a Bugs Bunny cartoon. This is in no way negative criticism, some of the best music was written to enhance cartoons and comic skits and this track is no exception. I quite admired the song, especially the sections that included a taste of the medieval and classical styles. By far, the piece that had the most lyrical complexity was Backyard Volcanoes. It also had a refreshingly simplistic feel to it that was a relief after the complexity of the album.
Great Kills Freimdship Club is a wonderful and perplexing listen. I think it needed more simplistic songs included, just to give the listeners brain a bit of a break. Alternatively, some of the more overly complex songs would have benefitted from possibly being split into two or three separate tracks. However, I cannot deny the creative drive behind much of Little’s music and for that I give the album 8/10.