Sawtooth Brothers – One More Flight
It seems hard to believe. In our ever-expanding digital age, it scarcely seems possible that young men and women alike, across the globe, still pursue traditional musical forms. The rap, pop, and dance revolutions in popular music never quite dislodged the traditional from its place in the pantheon of musical expression. Americana, traditional country, and blues aren’t nearly as visible as before and wield nothing of the commercial clout they once shared, but young bands like The Sawtooth Brothers demonstrate that these tried and true vehicles remain exemplary vehicles for expressing eternal truths in song. Nearly a dozen songs compromise the band’s first full length release One More Flight and each of the eleven songs bubbles with their own individual flavors. There’s not a detectable moment of self indulgence over the course of these songs either and they play with the sort of commanding skill that longtime listeners might associate with the Nashville giants of yore. The Sawtooth Brothers are able to recall the past without ever losing themselves there for a second.
“Another Cliché” rises and falls like an enjoyable country-flavored romp, but restrains itself enough to embody a singer/songwriter air. The lyrical content is key. The Sawtooth Brothers push far beyond the usual providence of country/bluegrass with their clever threading of many every day tropes into an idiosyncratic personal statement. Luke Birtzer’s violin/fiddle playing is a major force throughout the entirety of One More Flight and provides excellent melodic counterpoint to the surrounding musicians. His presence is particularly important on “What’s Her Name?” It gives an added mournful voice to play against the equally sorrowful vocal and the violin acts as a sort of deeper emotional record reflecting the true depth of regret in the heart of the song. “Summer All the Time” touches listeners in a similar place, but the subject matter is much different. The Sawtooth Brothers do an excellent job of revitalizing the song bemoaning lost youth thanks to a strong combination of vague and specific imagery. It gives the songwriting a solid narrative while still remaining open to interpretation.
“Blame It” is a moment of outright humor on an album with ample good nature to spare. Much like “Another Cliché”, “Blame It” takes comedic aim at life’s more absurd moments while still providing listeners a musically strong arrangement and on point instrumental work. Things take an elegiac turn once again on the album’s later track, “I Should Be Going”. The Sawtooth Brothers do a superb job invoking a bittersweet, wistful atmosphere not weighed down by too much instrumentation or a sour musical mood. They score again with a sharply tailored title song that ranks as one of the release’s most urgent, energetic efforts, but One More Flight’s final song, “Take Me Away”, is a true gem. This is as perfect of an ending as they could hope for with the song’s simmering yearning, its eyes turned towards a better place, and a final top notch musical arrangement that surprises the listeners more often than conforming to expectations. One More Flight is one of the year’s finest efforts from bands or artists in the genre, but its merits extend much further than that,
9 out of 10 stars.