The Sadies are on a creative roll, following 2007’s New Seasons with an eclectic country-rock album one dares call a “modern classic.”
Benefiting again from the production of former Jayhawk Gary Louris, Darker Circles contains nods to bands that came before – the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, and lesser bands from the ’70s – without the personality of this band being overpowered by them. The opener, “Another Year Again,” is a good example; chiming guitars, a hard country-rock backbeat, and alternating twang licks and fuzz guitar mesh perfectly. By its last minute, it morphs into a psychedelic rave-up.
Brothers Dallas and Travis Good play the stringed instruments, always right on the money. “Postcards” is laden with spot-on bends and a bit of twang thrown in for good measure. Its uptempo feel belies a thoughtful, depressing lyric. “Another Day Again” would feel at home on a garageband record from the ’60s. The waltz feel of “Tell Her What I Said” is dominated by hypnotic guitars and an exquisite mandolin solo.
Lots of influences converge on several cuts. “Violet and Jeffrey Lee” is a country tune, but the fine harmony vocals are pure British Invasion and its Tele lead break sets up a perfect flatpicked acoustic-guitar solo. If that weren’t enough, a twangfest at the end turns into another trip into the psychedelic world of guitar. The disc closes with the sole instrumental (and perfectly titled) “Ten More Songs,” which has a build-up that at first sounds like a movie theme before ultimately offering everything from loud acoustic to distorted rock guitar. It almost goes through movements, and that’s the way this band works – gorgeous harmony vocals, well-written lyrics, and arrangements that sound familiar but never boring. These are the trademarks of a band that for more than a decade has been sneaking around behind the lines of pop/rock music. Darker Circles shows it’s time to make room at the front.
This article originally appeared in VG’s Aug. ’10 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.