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Title: The Collection EP
Release Date: 09/23/11
Reviewer: Josh Hamm
Sometimes I feel like I’m having déjà vu as I’m listening and writing about music. I listen to a lot of what would fall under the “Folk” genre, and lately I’ve found that there’s a lot of great music in that genre that’s coming out. I feel like I’m always hearing creative instrumentation and fantastic harmonies and insightful lyrics. I think to myself that there’s no way that all these bands can consistently be this good. But I’ve been proven wrong again. The Collection is a fantastic group. They’re not just another copy cat folk outfit that’s trying to imitate some indie formula, they’re the real deal.
The Collection is made up of fifteen members, but every track was written, arranged, performed and recorded by David Wimbish (who is also part of folk outfit ElisaRay, as well as bassist Hayden Cooke). It’s no mean feat, especially considering the sheer amount of instruments featured: fiddle, glockenspiel, trumpet, melodica, omnichord, shaker, flute, piano, guitar, vocal harmonies, drums, bass, organ, cello, euphonium, and a dragontar(whatever that is), just to name a few.
The good news is that all of those instruments have been arranged in a way in which the enormity of the orchestration doesn’t overwhelm the songs themselves. While I enjoy hearing complex music with a multitude of instruments both traditional and unique, I usually wince when I hear that the number of instruments exceeds ten or so. I immediately think, “Oh no, here’s another indie band just tossing in an orchestra and brass band for the heck of it.” Loads of instruments for the sake of having loads of instruments grind my gears the wrong way; it’s usually a gimmick.
That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by The Collection. There’s nothing gimmicky about them. They put out music where you can hear diversity of instruments, but the song itself is what is at the forefront, it’s the sum of its parts. While a couple of the songs would have been nice to hear stripped down, simple, and personable, the complexity of most of them is enticing and draws you in effortlessly.
What are truly exceptional in this EP are the lyrics. I’ve rarely encountered songs that are able to be so blatantly based on Biblical stories, verses, and themes, yet remain as subtle, nuanced, and genuine as they are here.
The opening song “Dirt” loosely weaves the stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, Samson, Peter, and Paul into a larger theme dealing with the common sinful tendencies of mankind, and how God redeemed and used these men regardless of their mistakes and imperfections, and ends on the lyrics “All that I can see is that You can’t see the dirt in me.” Simple, but profound as the conclusion to the buildup of the song. Or consider “Seeds,” which is an incredibly personal confession of doubt and a prayer for strength as David Wimbish sings “I have told the mountains to fall into the sea,/they don’t budge;/I guess my faith isn’t big enough/but if you could just see a little mustard seed in me, would you make it grow into your kingdom?” Another gem of the album is “Leper,” which begins with a soft trumpet and gradually adds guitar, strings, and countless other instruments, which deals thematically with the change Jesus is supposed to ignite within us: “Aimless soul, did you wonder if he’d speak your name?/were you so surprised when he touched your shame?/When we look at his hands filled with thorny crowns/but he’s raising the dead and he’s changing out nouns/with a son gone and died, with a leper’s curse/the blind come unblind and darkness’s reversed.” The song finishes strong with an omnichord and accordion based ending.
Virtually all the songs are highlights, the sole exception being “Jericho.” Although really, all I can say about it is that it didn’t strike a chord with me in the same way as the other songs, and the pace of it didn’t quite fit with the rest of the album, however it is by no means a poor song, merely weak in comparison to the rest.
Overall: This beautiful and brilliant bunch of songs is as genuine and heartfelt as they come. The arrangements are outstanding and nothing ever feels out of place. It features some incredible Biblically based lyrics which do not come off as forced and deal deeply with significant issues in a poetic way. Listening to The Collection puts a smile on my face for the rest of the day.
RIYL: ElisaRay, Fleet Foxes, Bison, Sufjan Stevens
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The Collection - The Collection EP,