Magic Music – Self Tilted


The sheer sprawl of this album implies suppressed creativity now unleashed. Few bands in any genre would dare to debut with a full length album of seventeen songs, virtually all of them clocking in between four and five minutes long. Some might think that the Americana style ensures easy comprehension of the material, but the six piece sorcery of Colorado’s Magic Music is a potent and layered mix of musical subtleties. Their debut album doesn’t restrict itself to chasing after one stylistic route. Instead, Magic Music ably bring in a variety of traditional music sounds under one tent and leave no sign of stitching behind for the listeners to notice. These are fully formed works of musical art and many of the performances further benefit from guest performances that make sense. Bill Payne, Scarlet Rivera, and John McFee are among the musical artists making contributions to an album that’s been forty years in the making. Magic Music makes it count. If they never record a follow up, their self-titled debut will endure with its audience for some time to come.

Magic Music starts things off with two exceptional tracks that are among the album’s best. “Bring Down the Morning” and “Bright Sun Bright Rain” have the same kind of instruments working to bring the song together, but they have very different temperaments. The shimmering production makes the playing leap to life out of your speakers. The jaunty romp of “Mole’s Stumble” betrays no such clumsy turns and, instead, bounces insistently from the first seconds onward. The light brush drumming sets a great pulse for the song as well. “Gandy Dancer” is one of the most impressively melodic tracks on the album thanks to the compelling trading off between the instruments. The vocal is very strong and tailors itself quite closely to the melodic trajectory of the song.

“Carolina Wind” has great storytelling elements and builds from a low-burner simmer into something far grander, but Magic Music retains enough technique to never overplay their hand. The different sections of the song fit quite well together rather than sounding like disparate sections stitched together to form a song. The band reaches even higher than before on “Eldorado Canyon” and creates a wide-ranging musical track to accompany one of the album’s best lyrics. There’s a great deal of delicacy invested into the individual and harmony vocals alike that further ratchets up the song’s effects. “Sundance” has a lyricism rising from its arrangement from the beginning and the bright-eyed vocals only accentuate the effect. This is one of the album’s biggest pick me up tracks and should prove popular with a wide swath of listeners.

“Country” is a stripped back acoustic number driven largely by its solid rhythm guitar track. The mandolin flourishes laid over the top are just the right touch for the piece. The vocal remains understated through, much more than the typical song on this release, and the shift in presentation is quite welcome. “Better Days” is the album’s final high point. This is a song that should have a lot of appeal to the band’s audience and it surely expresses sentiments that any adult has experienced at some point. They embody the song’s spirit with just the right amount of drama and never overextend its potential. Few debuting bands release recordings packed with the inspiration at work here and anyone who loves real music from the heart will love this from the first list.

9 out of 10 stars.


Robert Fulford