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I Draw Slow

Turn Your Face to the Sun – 2017 (Compass)

Reviewed by Fred Frawley

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CDs by I Draw Slow

Rich vocals and layered harmonies exemplify the sound of the Irish-bred American roots band, I Draw Slow. The vocals of siblings Louise and Dave Holden complement their songs, all originals, on "Turn Your Face To The Sun." Dave Holden has a powerful alto resonance, whilst Louise Holden commands the higher range with easy assuredness. The songs tell stories with clarity and punch.

I Draw Slow represents a reverse-pollination of American music. Irish to the core, the band presents a solid American roots sound. Music from Celtic countries has always had a strong influence in American mountain music. This predated modern country music, but its lineage was most recently emphasized in the so-called "linthead" milieu - a mountain music thread popularized in the industrial South during the earlier part of the 20th century by, among others, Fiddlin' John Carson, The Dixon Brothers and Charlie Poole, all of whom worked in the fabric mills of the Carolinas and Georgia (hence the term "linthead") when they weren't playing music. Carson, as the story goes, started on a Stradivari knock off imported with his family from Ireland.

I Draw Slow infuses the conventional roots sound with a hint of the Celtic ethos, most especially in their instrumentation, heavily relying on fiddle and a light touch of guitar. The disc was recorded in County Wicklow, but it has the soul and intensity of a late summer call night on the porch in the Piedmont Valley.

"Don't Wake The Children" offers an other-worldly construct of these elements: harmonies, powerful lyrics and a mournful fiddle line from Adrian Hart. Dave Holden contributes guitar and mandolin licks throughout. "Crooked Life," which closes the album, adopts the form of a straight ahead tempo, only to be interrupted by a sweet interlude - not a bad metaphor for life itself.

"Alvarenga" distills the I Draw Slow sound: easy vocals, sharp lyrics, and a timeless quality that has an early 21st-century depth. "Turn You Face To The Sun" is just that kind of record; a confident display of songwriting chops and inspired singing.