The Deep Dark Woods – The Places I Left Behind review

Well, you see, when The Editors and The Civil Wars love each other very much, they express that love by making a baby. However, there is no evidence that either band is aware of each other, but if they were, and aforementioned scenario took place, the resulting spawn would undoubtedly sound almost identical to The Deep Dark Woods, but in a way that is constructive, not derivative. Ample amounts of slide guitar, organ and warm, organic drums sounds set the soundscape for the bands vocalist to methodically meander his through their senior thirteen-song album, The Place I Left Behind. Upon first listen, the only noticeable thing they left behind would be all the annoying minutia that normally keeps country from being taken seriously: gone are lyrical themes of pride in ignorance, generic heartbreak met by alcohol dependency, objectification of women, shallow interpretation of religion, and boastings of identity based on material wealth; banished are the painfully upbeat four to the floor beats barely hidden behind guitar licks that should have been laid to rest the moment they were born, with their seemingly automated verse-chorus structure; and absent is the annoying forced vocal effect that so many artists in the country realm seem forced to employ. What’s left is a bluesy ode to life, a shimmering album brimming with songs that hold depth to rival any other genre, but a pop sensibility to not alienate people who are ardently opposed to the genre.

It’s a slow burner of an album, with appropriately placed instrumental solo’s, usually organ, which carry the listener to the edge of emotional catharsis, and leaves them there. If you had nothing to cry about before listening to this album, the music alone will make you want to weep bittersweet tears of yearning for an almost unperceivable feeling of muted euphoria. It’s a mixed bag of the best kind, overflowing with feeling, wrapped in a style that is usually so contrived that finding one worthwhile song is a mystery. The fact that a complete collection of songs manages to avoid the normal shoddiness is nothing short of a miracle.

Alt-country seems destined to be the new revivalist-retro-synth-pop-rock that is so popular amongst the ‘cutting edge’ of today’s art crowd elite. If a person had an undercut hairstyle a few months ago, but have since traded it for a Paul Varjack, 50’s-esque classy comb-over, then you can expect The Deep Dark Woods to be at the forefront of their sonic snobbery in the near future. This isn’t simply because of the Deep Dark Woods fresh branch of decidedly not synth-based music, it’s because they are actually talented. Their songs might not hold much summer sway, but in the words of E. B. White’s realist crickets: “summer is over and dying, over and dying. Summer is dying, dying” and with it’s death and heralding of colder climates, The Deep Dark Woods slides in perfectly to fill the void of happiness that the absence of heat created, with their melancholic melodies tailor made for browning leaves, drizzling rain and slow snow fall.

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