Flatt Lonesome – Silence in These Walls
Flatt Lonesome’s Silence in These Walls includes twelve songs clearly charting the development of the band since they first made their mark with a self-titled 2013 first album. They are moving further and further away from relying on genre standards and obscure, if not astutely chosen, covers and outside material. The primary artistic movers in Flatt Lonesome are Paul Harrigill and Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill, but they are joined by four other top shelf musicians and vocalists with Charli Robertson, Dominic Illingworth, Michael Stockton, and Buddy Robertson. The obvious family connections make this an even more intimate affair – there’s an instant rapport in everything you hear on Silence in These Walls. Moreover, there’s a sense of balance that seems like a natural outgrowth from them playing together that gives each of the album’s dozen cuts instant confidence and accessibility. Silence in These Walls pays tribute to tradition but uses it as relevant and rewarding vehicle for self expression.
The power and dramatic weight of their music is evident from the start. Flatt Lonesome’s compositions promote melody, in all its forms, before any other single quality. Few of the songs illustrate that better than the first track “All My Life”. Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill’s vocal is certainly sorrowful in a way the lyric demands, but also glows with a vibrant spirit. “It’s Just Sad” is a much more deliberate performance, the song unfolding in a steady way, and more guided by Charli Robertson’s vocals than what we hear in the opener. There are important harmony and backing vocal contributions, however, just not as pronounced or plentiful as those on the first song. “Build Me a Bridge” is some nifty songwriting from outside writers, but Flatt Lonesome doesn’t betray even an inkling of insecurity attacking this song as if it were their own. It does speak about a near-universal experience, so shoehorning themselves into the narrative wasn’t hard. The blues strands coloring the song’s tapestry of sound are particularly effective flavoring here and elsewhere on Silence in These Walls.
“I’m Not Afraid To Be Alone” would have worked well for any number of iconic country singers because it is such a good song, but Charli Robertson knocks it out of the park with a spirited reading that matches up nicely with the energetic backing track. “Draw Me Near” touches on the band’s spiritual inclinations, but never with a fundamentalist or evangelical hand. Instead, this is one of two songs on the album that qualify as pure testimony. Their cover of Glen Campbell’s 1970 track “Where Do You Go” illustrates how talented they are about picking up the mantle of classic country music and refurbish it into something utterly modern. “Gently Please Tell Me Goodbye”, written by Paul Harrigill, is a sumptuous ballad that gets beneath the skin early on and burrows deep in a listener’s heart. It’s easily the best ballad on Silence in These Walls. “Happy ‘Til He Comes” is a beautifully arranged and slightly playful paean to maintaining faith in a better tomorrow. This faith is put in spiritual/religious terms that Flatt Lonesome wisely never pushes too hard. Silence in These Walls is an enjoyable and satisfying recording from Flatt Lonesome and should catapult them to greater notoriety than they’ve known before.