Flatt Lonesome – Silence in These Walls
Flatt Lonesome has come a long way since their 2013 self titled debut. They’ve enjoyed stunning chart success, a busy touring schedule for appreciative crowds, and even graced the stage of what remains the pre-eminent venue in country music, Nashville’s Grand Old Opry. The six member band is a family affair; the axis of Robertson and Harrigill’s anchoring the band’s creativity and the across the board musical gifts fueling the dozen songs included on Silence in These Walls makes for a dizzying combination. They tackle the material with a breezy effortlessness that picks up even the darkest songs with their melodic skill and the multi-part harmonies frequently supporting the primary vocalist sweeten otherwise heavy material and make it even more entertaining. This isn’t just some academic exercise from top notch musicians hitting their marks in a specific way; Flatt Lonesome, more and more, specialize in original material, present a multi-faceted songwriting approach including inspirational songs, and use this music as a modern method of self expression while never flinching from making use of the style as they see fit.
“All My Life” has a strongly elegiac vibe, but there’s palpable passion and lyricism rolling through the song as well. It helps listeners cope a little better with the depressing nature of the lyrical content. It isn’t all unremitting gloom, but the songwriting certainly tangles with adult emotions and subject matter far from the usual purview of pop or rock music. The variety of voices they can bring together, both solo and harmony, shows itself to be quite impressive on this opener. “It’s Just Sad” has beautifully plain-spoken poetry powering the song’s lyrical content and the vocal puts it over with just the right balance of feel and finesse. “Build Me a Bridge” delves into the band’s blues influences and summons up a well recorded and arranged swampy number that sets the stage nicely for its smartly worded lyric. Buddy Robertson’s vocals are particularly well suited for this one and the frequent vocal support he receives makes this an even more high quality portion of the recording.
The first of the album’s gorgeous ballads comes with the song “I’m Not Afraid to Be Alone” and the sentiments of the song title are reflected in the performance with recrimination or overly theatrical displays of emotion. The music is appropriately low-key as well. “Cry Oh Cry” is another of the album’s ballads and takes a slower tempo than the previous track. Harrigill takes over vocals again for the song “Draw Me Near” and he does a touching job of tapping into the lyric’s spiritual yearnings. The music does as well. “Highway of Pain” is another Paul Harrigill vocal showcase where his long-affinity with what makes a good song and singing performance in this style informs the final result. The album’s best ballad, by far, is a group original coming from Paul Harrigill and “Gently Please Tell Me Goodbye” has all of the delicacy and more implied by the title. Cutting against the gray pallor hanging over a significant portion of the album, “Falling” is a song in love with being in love. Flatt Lonesome is an oddity though. Even in the darkest mode, there’s a joy in the creation of music that comes across to the listener and it makes the experience of hearing Silence in These Walls remarkably worthwhile.