Silver Tongues’ “Black Kite”

“…a perhaps unintended amalgamation of famous pop moments from the eighties with tight, sometimes inspiring, musicality.” – Holly E.

Holly Etchison
Silver Tongues Black Kite

out of 10

Silver Tongues
Black Kite
October 25, 2011
Karate Body Records

“Black Kite,” the debut album from Louisville, KY based group Silver Tongues, had me feeling like I was standing at one of those Brach’s Pick-a-mix candy stands they used to have in grocery stores circa 1980 something: pick a sound, any sound. Not that this is a bad thing per se; we all like choices. And, interestingly, to my ears, the combined efforts of James Hewett, Jacob Heustis, Michael Campbell, David Cronin, and Brian Cronin seem to be a perhaps unintended amalgamation of famous pop moments from the eighties with tight, sometimes inspiring, musicality.

Showcasing strong, sometimes Crowded House, sometimes Simply Red vocal styling, with even a little Bono Joshua Tree (“Mothers of the Disappeared”) era, things start strong with “Highway.” The second track “Ketchup” doesn’t disappoint either–I’m always in favor of some good yelling, and for a minute it feels like the new wave anthem “Melt with You.” The brooding, plaintive build up of “Black Kite” is also promising–cryptic vocals cleverly recorded as if they were sung far removed or outside a window looking on a mysterious scene complete an intriguing sound picture.

The whispers of promise for me, though, kind of ended here, with the onset of “Warsaw.” Again, the vocals are strong but things devolve a bit with the loop track Human League-ish keyboard. “Hope For” displays pretty instrumentation- the strings are nice, but otherwise doesn’t thrill as a ballad. “Broken Strings” distracted for a moment: the opening few bars had me humming “Dance With Me” the seventies easy listening hit–the grungy, spacey guitar is nice and the claps are pleasant. Things get a little draggy again tho with “Greater Times,” which, however, does feature a nice fiddle backdrop.

At the album’s close, I think again of the candy stand: in any grab bag you have your cinnamon disks (personal favorites), and other hard candies, some chocolates, those nougat cremes, an occasional peanut log, and something coconut. There are plenty of flavors to be found on “Black Kite” . . . it’s thread of continuity may be the same as any smorgasbord of sugary treats: sweet but not totally filling.