Monday, July 11, 2011


So nine months on from their first and five months on from their second, Blind Atlas today release their third single digitally and on CD. And it’s their boldest, most ambitious release yet.

I first heard ‘Iron Wall’ live when Blind Atlas supported The Acorn back in May 2010. It was their final song and was electrifying: a slow almost-dirge-like song that builds in intensity, using repeated phrases (“come back home / come back home my Iron Wall / heart and soul / please don’t go”) to become something strange and shamanistic that concludes with raw scraping and bowing of strings and harsh beating of drums and percussion. There’s no distinct narrative to the song that I can discern, it’s more impressionistic with its strength in the strange primal power it emits. The song was played back to an audience attending the band’s Art and Music event earlier this year were their drew, scribbled and painted in response to the curious sounds of ‘Iron Wall’. The images created during this session are featured extensively in the artwork accompanying the CD release.

If ‘Iron Wall’ ploughs a different furrow to the band’s previous classic Americana country-rock, the other two songs return to familiar terrain. ‘Mary Anne’ is a grizzled weepie, a slow acoustic number with singer Ross Thompson sounding broken and wretched (and a little like a softened Jay Farrar) amidst gorgeous female harmonies and rich pedal steel. It could easily pass for Gram Parson and Emmylou Harris in the 70s or The Jayhawks in the 90s; yes that ‘classic’ in its simple authenticity.

‘My Proud Mountains’ is a Townes Van Zandt cover. It follows the mood and style of the preceding track but rather than lost or unrequited love this is a poignant, shiver-inducing hymn to home. This tale of a man’s arduous journey through changing landscapes is sung with such conviction you’d think it was written by the band who in no way show any nerves in covering such a revered singer-songwriter.

All three songs show an extra confidence in song-writing and in delivery: Blind Atlas are not afraid to keep it sparse and simple or to push themselves in new directions. The production (from Christian Madden of The Earlies) is understated, sympathetic and sounds gorgeous. It’s a bold move to release a seven minute track of spooky tribal drums and dark incantations - but it works and shows a courage that deserves to be rewarded.

Blind Atlas - Ironwall by BlindAtlas

Blind Atlas Iron Wall [BUY]

1 comment:

Billy said...

Amazing band, looking forward to 2012 album release!