Return of the southern troubadour

The Ravenna Colt – Slight Spell

Stream – ‘Now to begin’

The sound of alt country has always been a good lure. It’s the mixture of the lush sounds you get from a lap steels, pedal steels and harmonicas, paired with the homespun philosophy that comes from lyrics deep rooted on the love of nature, folk, Americana and oral history. All of these elements then get topped up with some electric guitar (blues based sometimes but not always) that just adds an extra tinge of electricity to the already rarified atmosphere.

The sounds of The Ravenna Colt‘s début album, Slight Spell , is full of slow paced, wistful songs. The mental scenery could be anything: a lone ballroom after a party, where the broken hearted are reminiscing of the missed opportunities of the night (‘Loner in disguise’), a solitary walk through the mountains by the river (”Now to begin’) or a drive through the little unpaved highways by the fields (‘Prepare to be delivered’).

Reverberation is the name of the game, whether on the ghost-like vocals of Johnny Quaid or on the guitar, you’ll find the effect heavily used, but not overtly so. ‘South of Ohio’ starts our musical journey through the mauve and purple skies of a sunset while driving on a highway. The pain of loneliness might creep from time to time (‘Loner in disguise’) while you drive, but, after a little head bobbing and humming to the radio, you accept your situation and continue your journey. From acceptance comes the realisation that sometimes you need to be alone for parts of this journey called life.

Heck, you might need a pep talk while fear and uncertainty play poker in your head. ‘According to the matador’ feels like that surge of security that comes from within to fight off your fears. The solo is magnificent and goosebump inducing. Even if for a few moments you might feel under the weather (‘If Josie Wails can fail’), there’s always that inner strength to survive (‘Now to begin’). ‘Now to begin’ is a true gem in this album.

‘Prepare to be delivered’ is such a dreamy song, with those instrumental passages that let the music say what words sometimes just can’t pinpoint. Mind you, not all the album is slow and thoughtful, as you get a “bring the house down and have a beer after” with ‘Forsake and combine’, the rock track for the album. Again, the solo is pretty nifty and the ending is classic alt country, packing a great punch. Love the little lingering effect that seems to bleed into ‘That day at Point Reyes’, the introspective album closer. Feeling almost post-rock in nature (minimalistic and all), the fingerpicking adds that certain acoustic feeling that melts just right with the electronic elements of the song. Johnny Quaid’s voice is full of longing on that “If there’s just one moment / this is the one” refrain. The lap pedal contribution made me feel a little nostalgic about driving through Arkansas ages ago.

A pretty strong album by The Ravenna Colt, let’s hope they take this out on tour for a long while and get their message across. The very intimate feel (and longing) you get from this tracks could sound wonderful in a live setting. Do check the video for ‘If Josie Wails Can Fail’.

Words: Sam.

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