Skittish – Perfect Shade of Green Pt. 1&2 – CD Review
Neil Thomas took time out from walking the dog to write this review for Rock n Roll View.
Skittish are a Folk Rock band from Minnesota who have released their latest album “Perfect Shade of Green” in 2010. Curiously, and quite boldly, this is a double album clocking in at 1 hour 37 minutes with a total of 24 tracks, the obvious presumption is that it will either drag or have too many “filler” tracks. Not so. Every song is a winner on this phenomenal album. The core members are Jeff Noller and Vonnie Kyle, both exceptional musicians with outstanding vocal abilities.
Skittish is certainly a very apt name for an outfit of this calibre. Their opening numbers “Living Atop” and “Love Songs and Lullabyes” (watch the HD music video) really let you know what this band is about from the start. Lively and catchy melodic rock with a huge folk injection to get your foot tapping straight away as you glide into this beautifully atmospheric journey. By the third track “Wrecking Ball” we are detoured into a commercially viable rock epic with hooky overdriven riffs, reminiscent of the seventies stadium bands (Who, Zeppelin etc). The band offer up some post-punk chugging riffs for the verses and just in case there was any danger of you thinking you were listening to the wrong band, Skittish bring in an acoustic guitar to throw some folky flavours back into the mix. This is so colourful – a real pleasure to soak up the melodies and harmonies. With so much variety in the instrumentation (mandolin, banjo, cello, trumpet, clarinet etc) it’s difficult to pinpoint who is playing what, but what does it matter? Everything is expertly presented and the production is flawless. Noller and Kyles voices are both mutually complimentary with neither dominating the album. Having two accomplished singers at the helm of the sound is an excellent starting point but with their exquisite and effortless harmonies it just becomes so much sweeter. The last song on the first disc has a picked arpeggio acoustic, which put me in mind of the Damian Rice song “Rootless Tree”. The song takes so many twists and turns – it has a scope and grandeur about it that gives it a real epic quality. It’s the perfect tune to ensure you pull the disc out and reach for disc two.
Part 2 begins with a stomping folk song that gradually picks up pace. The vocal melody dances lightly over the backing and as the layers build up we are back to the lush harmonies as Noller and Kyle divide and conquer. This song is followed by “Bump in the Night” which stands out oh so gently as my own personal favourite. Vonnie Kyle takes the lead in this beautifully simple arrangement. The percussion, mandolin and strings are exquisite and provide for some delicate satin textures – the perfect backdrop to her superb vocal, sometimes double-tracked and sometimes intimate, naked and simple – very sensual. The third track opens with a tightly harmonized vocal intro from the pair and instantly reminded me of Jethro Tull – it was quite uncanny. The rest of the album continues throwing up catchy radio-friendly numbers time and time again. There really isn’t a weak song to be found.
The only (very minor) negative I could find with this album is the dark cover artwork. From what I can tell it’s quite an eye-catching cover, apart from the dark print – or maybe I’ve just got a duff copy. The absence of sleeve notes is a shame, although I understand some artists like to limit the amount of notes to try and emphasize the importance of the music, I always feel that the notes help promote the product more. Maybe I’m old fashioned but it’s nice to have some visual imagery and information whilst listening to the music. Overall this is an incredible album, with enormous breadth and depth of substance, flawless in both its musical delivery and slick production. It is definitely a “grower” as you hear more colours and flavours coming through each time you hear it. I can only imagine great things ahead for Skittish if they can maintain this standard of material and keep going. I will eagerly look forward to hearing their follow up. This is definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the next few years.
Get a little skittish at the band’s website for a listen and more information, http://www.iamskittish.com. See the high definition video for “Love Songs and Lullabyes” at HD Music Videos Online
This article was written by Neil Thomas for Rock n Roll View.