“ Genre: Pop / Artist: The Strange Familiar / MP3 Download released 2009-06-15 at Paper Doll Records „
The Strange Familiar is a fairly new American band from Ohio. This Is Gravity is their debut album (although there was one self-released, this is their first with a label) and was released early last year. I actually had mine imported after hearing "Courage Is.." however although still not available in shops over here it is available as a digital download.
I actually keep all my CD's in a CD wallet and thought I knew where all the cases are. In general this is true however this one seems to be missing in action. I guess this isn't too much of a problem as if I'd bought the digital download I wouldn't have this information anyway but from what I can find online:
Producers: Brian Malouf and Curt Schnieder
Vocals and Keyboard: Kira Leyden
Guitar: Jeff Andrea
Bass: Frank Freeman
* Still Have Time
* I Just Want To Love You
* Courage Is...
* This Is Gravity
* Secret Life
* Nobody's Hero
* Raise Your Glass
* You Can't Go Back
* I Know Your Name
* Never Be
~ Still Have Time ~
Starts with a fairly strong base on drums that carries the whole way through the song and is amplified by a repeated phrase that is played on the keyboard.
The vocals themselves also seem to carry some of the beat and again seem to have several repetitive phrases in the music.
Despite being quite a repetitive song it doesn't drag or get to 'samey'. Not a particularly fast song but definitely a more upbeat one. A good choice to start the CD with.
~ I Just Want To Love You ~
A song to someone she loves that's been struggling with something in their lives and it's affected the way they see themselves.
Beginning fairly softly with just the piano providing background music and the vocals, but quickly picks up pace while the instrumental gets stronger. A fairly gentle and reassuring song that emphasises the message the song is carrying. Despite talking about difficult times in someone's life there's a sense of hopefulness and a positiveness to this song that's carried through more in the music then the lyrics themselves.
~ Courage Is... ~
This song is the sole reason I bought the whole album. It starts with just two notes played one after the other on the piano with the vocals carrying the whole tune. This is carried through the whole song with just a slight change to the piano providing a slight dischordance to the song. About half way through the instrumental does become stronger but it's still the vocals that really carry it through and this works brilliantly with the songs lyrics which are about working through problems no matter how many problems get put in your way.
A very positive, hopeful song and this is shown through both the vocals and instrumental.
"It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many times you get back up."
~ This Is Gravity ~
Slowing it down after the last song. Starting with just guitar and piano, unusually for this band there's almost more going on instrumentally then vocally as the tune the vocals carry is actually quite simple against a fairly layered and comparitively more complex instrumental background.
However, her voice is strong enough to cope with this and doesn't get drowned out at any point throughout the song. She manages to hold her own against all the instrumentals and draw our attention to her vocals just as much as the instrumental naturally keeps our attention due to the depth.
~ Angel ~
Starts with a fairly slow piano phrase quickly joined by the vocals. A softer, calmer song that's very relaxing and, due to the lyrics more then anything else, a fairly uplifting song much like many others in this album.
Not too much going on instrumentally, it's definitely the vocals that carry this song but that's the way it should be in my opinion as it's the lyrics to the song that carry the meaning.
~ Secret Life ~
Fairly early in this song there's a little bit of dissonance in the vocals. This is the first time on the album this is really noticeable but it fits well with the song as it's about change in our lives and how the odds are against two people being together but they know they'll make it anyway.
A fairly fast song compared to others on the album and one that has more going on instrumentally but this is well balanced with the vocals ensuring that neither drowns the other out.
~ Nobody's Hero ~
Slowing it down again to a song about someone that's had a tough life but is moving forward from that.
A strong beat carried through on both the drums and the piano. Even in the vocals at parts as the music is well written to fit with the lyrics as each main word is on a strong beat.
There's a sense of longing and almost a kind of emotional hurt that can be felt throughout this song but it doesn't come across as depressing in any way, almost the opposite because there's also a sense of hope. Almost as if they're saying "I'm going to get through this despite everything"
~ Witness ~
A much slower song, probably the slowest on the album. Only starts with the piano providing a background while the vocals taking a forefront.
There are areas where the piano and other instruments take a more prominent role but it's definitely the vocals that carry this song through. Each verse is actually quite short making the chorus the part that really comes through and sticks with you but I feel that's the way it should be and it doesn't come across too repetitive as the chorus carries a powerful message about the problems in the world at the moment and challenges us to make a difference.
~ Raise Your Glass ~
A fairly quick beat but almost feels as if it should be moving even faster, there's a sense of restlessness in the music that fits with the lyrics which are about someone who she used to know but she's no longer with.
A positive, upbeat song that's well placed in the album. Not one of my favourites but not one I'd say I'd ever skip either.
~ You Can't Go Back ~
Slower then the last but still quicker then some others on the album however the beat seems to slow as the vocals join in. A song about being hurt by someone she loved/loves.
There's plenty of tempo changes within this song to accent particular lyrics within the different verses, they slow it down when singing about hurt and how the past can't be changed but then pick the beat up again when talking more positively about how she did all she could and she knows she loved him even if he wants to say otherwise.
Like all the other songs in this album they manage to make what could be a depressing song due to the lyrics and message underlying the song into what is, in reality, a positive song due to not only the lyrics but also the hopefulness and positiveness carried in the music itself.
~ You Can't Go Back ~
Probably the quickest track on the album which sounds slower then it is to start with as although the instrumental carries the beat well, the vocals seem to drag a bit. However this quickly changes as the song really begins to start.
There's actually a lot going on instrumentally in this song but despite this the vocals more then hold their own and it's really the vocals carry the song through. This is probably helped by one of the instruments carrying the tune along with the vocals and so there's an extra emphasis.
~ Never Be ~
A song with a fair amount of dischord. The only song where it can be difficult to pick out certain vocals as the instrumentals seem to drown out the lyrics at times. This is a shame really because as I'll explain later it's the vocals and lyrics that really make this album for me, however it somehow seems to fit with the song.
It's a very upbeat and complex song with a lot going on both vocally and instrumentally, an excellent song to choose to end the album.
Would I Recommend It?
Definitely! As far as I'm concerned there's nothing not to recommend. The music itself is something that I think many people will enjoy and music, to me, should be something that tells a story in the lyrics and something people can relate to. This ticks all those boxes.
Each track on this album is telling its own little story and each carries its own message. Many people will be able to relate to the message in the songs and see how it either fits a time in their lives or calls them to do something different. When you really break down each song into what it's telling you it's actually quite hard-hitting yet at the same time something you could listen to in the background whilst your doing something else.
The album itself is only 48:12 so not the longest album in the first place but there are no fillers, each song could be taken as a stand alone and work perfectly well. There's also a lot of variety within each song to prevent the album as a whole from becoming too repetitive.
It costs £6.99 for the full album or 79p per track. A small price to pay for an excellent album!
It gets the full 5 out of 5 from me but if you still need some convincing the songs are all available for you to listen to online.