Hailing from Chicago, indie rock band Soft Ledges have released their single Highlight Reel from their upcoming self-titled debut album (available for purchase on the 18th of November). Members Shelley Miller and Chris Geilser describe their unique sound as “Vic Chesnutt and PJ Harvey having a mid-blizzard tea party with Low,” which as one could imagine is an eclectic mix of rock, folk, noise and a dash of minimalism. The track Highlight Reel lives up to its namesake, being the best bits of the band’s core sound.
The song is set in a distinctive harmonic minor sound, with the repetitive guitar hook emphasising the dominant major chord. Although I understood that the repetitiveness of the hook was a minimalist tool, I think there still could have been some variation. The perfect place for this would have been in the ‘it was love’ section where the vocals become extremely emotive. Just a slight variation on the hook, whether it be something as simple as changing a few of the notes or making it an octave higher/lower would have put the song at an elevated level both emotionally and compositionally. There is also some background noises that makes the atmosphere of the track sound raw and not over-the-top produced; a great addition to the piece.
Shelley’s vocals on this track were amazing. Both her tone and her musical choices were perfect for the lyrics and the emotion of the track. The pinacle of the song was in the previously mentioned section where the melody rises dramtically on the ‘it was love’ lyric. Shelley hits the big note perfectly and gets more emotional in her delivery as the phrase is repeated; a subtle lead up to a powerful climax. The rawness in her vocal tone reminded me of Patti Smith and Grace Slick (of Jefferson Airplane), and as long as she keeps making good musical choices with melodies like in this track she could do great things.
All in all, Soft Ledges’ sound is a unique one and I look forward to the release of their album. There were a few little things that could have been done differently but it’s definitely a solid debut into the music industry. I give it 8/10.
Listen to the single on their Soundcloud