ARTIST: SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG
TITLE: SAFE AND ALSO NO FEAR
LABEL: BIG SCARY MONSTERS
WORDS: JACK MOBLEY
What began as a solo project of Jake Ewald (of Modern Baseball fame) has grown into a fully fledged and focused project, as the prospect of a Modern Baseball reunion becomes less and less likely. Since starting the project, Jake has recruited Modern Baseball’s bassist, Ian Farmer; Nick Harris of All Dogs; and Superheaven drummer, Zack Robbins. Now an emo supergroup of sorts, Ewald and co. have released their third album, ‘Safe And Also No Fear’ to satisfy the hunger for more folk-laden emotional music with a singer-songwriting aspect. Ewald’s ability to write stories in the songs he is singing is breath-taking and his delivery can be concise and direct but also show a level vulnerability that connects with the listener, especially after multiple listens and all of this is swirled up in Ewald’s distinct country twang.
Opening track and single ‘One Down’, is the perfect example of Ewald’s vocal delivery. A quiet and intimate beginning with acoustic guitar and softly spoken lyrics drifts through the speakers. Couplets like ‘I win the war, I feed the poor, I get anxious and I curl up on the floor’ are short and memorable. Ultimately culminating in a spacious crescendo at the end of the song.
“Ewald’s ability to write stories in the songs he is singing is breath-taking”
Second track, ‘Good Ones’ has a more confident delivery and electric feel with the entire outfit turning the volume up on their instruments. ‘Black Oaks’ highlights Ewald’s songwriting ability, not being the best vocalist but his delivery is completely appropriate for the tone that he and the band are trying to achieve; a man discovering a girl in the Black Oak who is then murdered by the woman in such vivid imagery. This is all complimented by the circular nature of the instruments throughout the song, emphasising and complimenting Ewald’s voice. The track is then left to stew with distant vocals and the guitars leading the track a gradual close.
‘Petersburg’ has a withdrawn feeling and a production quality that is reminiscent of 60’s rock and swing, very minimal and raw but the acoustic tone lends itself to the stripped back sound. This is all before the uplifting ‘Tangerine’, that harks back to the days of Modern Baseball but with a mature twist and less angst ridden. ‘Heart Attack’ continues the uplifting mood with a Beatles inspired melody, especially in the verses in the vocal delivery and lyrical content of ‘boy tries to get girl’. A quick and instantaneous tune, the short track delivers in a simple, straightforward structure.
“This project is a blessing”
Final track ‘Anything’ showcases a spectacular folk flow in Ewald’s delivery once more while the instruments strolls along as if you were walking around the streets in a mid-western town.
Slaughter Beach, Dog has delivered an album that is relatively timid and nervous in it’s delivery but the quality of the songwriting has achieved a tone that draws you in and lose yourself in the stories that Ewald and co. have compiled. This project is a blessing in that the broken fragments from many talented bands have collaborated to fill a void that has been left by those groups. Ewald is undoubtedly the star of the record, and rightly so with his guitar melodies that are simple but purposeful and his unique vocal style that is almost a folk-storyteller voice that warms the heart when projected and vulnerable when softened which adds to the overall tone of the songs.