Get ready to experience Seaven Teares' folk esoterica nouveau full-length Power Ballads from Northern Spy in its entirety. This New York sacred band of current era classicist purveyors are Extra Life and ex-Zs singer/songwriter Charlie Looker, experimental Sequins and Skeletons vocalist Amirtha Kidambi, Howling Hex's Robbie Lee covering everything from guitar, breathing new lives through woodwinds, synth, along with Yarn/ Wire's Russell Greenberg handling percussion rhymic paces. As the album title suggests, these brave musical modernists present new takes on neo-classical approaches through renderings of the ballad form from John Dowland's 1596 lutenist classics to darker clad readings of Alice in Chains and original bodies of work laid out like sacrificial lambs on burning, incense bathed pyre. In short, this is the 'kill your darlings' pursuit of perfecting the craft of exhalted transgressive imperfections while pulling out the rug between the audio era conventions of time and place.
Opener “Meet Me” is the Teares' forelorn table call to gathering. Created like the proper beginning of any trad piece, Amirtha and Charlie's chamber choral incantations welcome with complications of contempt and new chances of post-life redemption. “Meet me where you blush, meet me at your skin. Kiss me through the bars, unsmiling in pleasure. Meet me where you end, where the world begins.” “The more I grab at your hated parts and search you like a corpse”, to the after death transformations like, “white heat and blistering chemicals will tease gold out from the dead.”
But this funereal, black veil draped procession is only the beginning where the group takes off with full-soot-belched-steam on”Our Lady of Sound”. “Virgin whore, I’ve given you everything. Truest mother, you gave me all I have to give. My manhood draped upon your altar, do with it what you will.” With a few dotted traces of modern keyboard tones, the Freudian Madonna and the whore constructs break and plead against a closed door. “I’ll return forever. I’ll give you more, more, even more. Just open the door…From your breast flow bright white melodies,sweet enough to wash away my sourest blackest deed. Anoint me with my right to live.”
The renaissance gathering of mortals continues with the aberrated Elizabethan coming of age cantation, “Grown Woman”. “You asked me for my poison and now you wanna spit it out. You’re all grown so wipe your own poisoned mouth. You’re a grown woman out in the world. If you allow this well then you deserve this, to cry like a little girl.” The secular growing pains and poisonous concerns build up to moments of controlled distortions with world shattering cacophonies that bring us to Robbie Lee's flute and acoustic strummed; “Like Your Black Hair”. Beginning like a medieval ode to a sadomasochistic bond, “Love descends upon our hearts like your black hair. The gleaming blackest kind of love, both of snuggles and of beatings. Cruelty and sweetness, how we laughed in play”.
But the strangeness of this bond becomes interrupted as the song turns towards darker territories, whilst dabbling in ear piercing chimes and a minor key sustain to underline the following tales of severe extremities. With a sinister synth gurgle and long lasting conscious shattering bells, it is hard to say which shocks your system more, between the veil ripping instrumentation to Charlie shattering any sense of safety through the sometimes deceiving traditional displacement where the depictions and consequences of sexually violent imageries occur within current day settings. “He flung you from the parking lot, over to the hospital, and out from the hospital to my room.”
Following it up with a mournful cover of John Dowland's “Flow My Tears”, Looker takes the lead, while woodwinds breathe a court-like chorus of new life and breath amid the ancient statement of worldly despairs. Then with tones matched from recorders to the Teares' vocal harmonics; Alice In Chains' “Them Bones” gets taken to new drawn out vocal utterances with the accompaniment of Jozef Van Wissem's lute.
To mend anything that the Sevean Teares' balladeering shadows may have offended, “Thin Veil” closes the album out like a bridal party of respite from the musical theatre of cruelty and doted dwellings on the macabre. “Pale and silent sister, ever by my side, behind the thinnest veil, your smile is calm and not so cold. No blame, cruel sister when you call my name. My time, cruel sister when the hour is mine, arm in arm I’ll walk with you. I already do.” This finale of “Veil” proves to be one of the definitive songs from an era of re-discovering the archaic liturgical underground obsessed folk movements from TJ Cowgill's King Dude, Death in June, and anyone else who has every wanted to rewrite the great universal hymnal of folk.
Seaven Teares' debut Power Ballads is available now from LP/CD/digital Northern Spy.