Thursday, February 28, 2013

Ariel & the Undertow (self titled) Album Review

Like an onion, there are many layers to Ariel & the Undertow. Onions can also be sweet, and so isn't the new LP from the band fronted by uke, tenor guitar wielding singer/songwriter Ariel Rubin. The self titled record is filled with rich instrument textures courtesy of a fantastic line up of players, and radio friendly song structures all backed by Ariel Rubin’s powerhouse of a voice.

My first thought when listening to the 11 track album is “holy crap what a voice!” The opening track “kindness from strangers” starts as a jazzy, distant monologue from Ariel Rubin. I picture myself in a dark speakeasy club as Rubin presents a gorgeous vocal that soon launches into a pop rock swell of catchy lyrics, swirling synths, and tasty guitar licks.  On “I Have No Music,” she sings “I have no music in my soul today,”  and I think everyone who is listening begs to disagree with this sentiment (but it still makes a great song!). The song beckons a little kickdrum thumping ala Meg White and later on features a sweet, sweet country guitar twang and ring courtesy of Duke Levine. “Take me Home”’s guitars leave me a little nostalgic for the grunge era of the 90s…and proving that you can’t put Ariel & The Under Tow’s influences and abilities in just one basket. The LP closes out strong with “Waiting Time”…which I think was purposely crafted to be a last track it fits the bill so well.

The album as a whole takes a very pop styled direction, but is very clever in its delivery. You can tell from the lyrical content, excellent musicianship, and quality of songwriting structure that these folks have been around the block and paid their dues as performers and songwriters. I have seen Ariel Rubin do the stripped down, songwriter thing as well and she does it just like she did this record…extremely well. AATUT deliver a nice, neat package of great songs that I am sure you will be hearing a lot of in 2013 (around New England clubs, on the radio, and probably on about 100 TV shows if the networks know what good music that appeals to the masses sounds like!).
The CD release for the record is TONIGHT at The Middle East…I  think tickets are still available at the door, so get there early to catch the show.

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