Sound: Nearly 5 years in the making, the debut release from Anchor & Braille, 'Felt', has arrived. Produced by Aaron Marsh of Copeland, with vocals coming from up and coming band Anberlin, the album is a fuse of the 2 minds.
From the first track to the last, there is a genuine feeling of elegance and grace about the album, from the lively debut single 'Like Steps In A Dance', to the powerful yet classy 'Summer Tongues'.
What makes this album dance with such sonic grace however, apart from Christian's soaring vocals, is the light use of brass and string instruments. Had they been over used, they would have lost impact, but the slight touches we get in 'Rust' and 'Introspect' really make for a great listening experience.
Because the album feels, in the most, very natural, it can be easy to forget the brilliant production work of Aaron Marsh. It would of been very easy to do what Neil Avron did on Anberlin's 'New Surrender' and wildly over produce, but he didn't, instead he did what every good producer should do, and kept the album honest to it's true sound and feeling.
My only slight criticism is on the side of percussion, sometimes it feels like the drums were thought of last, and simply dumped on top. There are some moments when they feel very disjointed from the song, and very lackluster indeed. But the songs themselves are so beautiful, it's not enough of a problem to take that much away from them. // 9
Lyrics: Well, with the exception of 'New Surrender', Stephen Christian has written some of the most truthful, beautifully crafted lyrics around on the modern music scene.
They are honest, heartfelt, and really strike a chord inside, no matter what the topic. What I love about Stephen's work, is that they can be so simple, but so incredibly elegant, without being crass or patronizing, for example, 'I can tell when your lying babe, your lips move again'.
As for the vocal talent of the man himself, well, perfection is not often a word that can be used in modern music, but that's the only way of describing it. Every note of every song hit perfectly, and with conviction. It soars above, but never overpowers. It is smooth, natural, and full of emotion. There is nothing more we could of asked of Stephen on this album. // 10
Overall Impression: I, like many, have been waiting a long time for this album. Expectations were high, and yet no one ever feared it would be anything other than excellent. The songs are endearing, none more so than 'Calm, Calm, Calm Yourself', which never fails to make me smile every time I hear it. 'Forget Love', which is one of my favorite tracks from the album, really showcases what this album has to offer, especially the small section where Marsh and Christian sing together; a combination made in heaven.
Although a totally different style to 'Anberlin', Anchor & Braille's album has in essence what 'New Surrender' lacked; soul, emotion, and honesty. The vocals sound natural, and lyrically it is as passionate as 'Cities', but feels much more intimate.
However, as happy as this album makes me feel, it also makes me feel sad. It took 5 years to record and release this album, due to commitments with Anberlin. And now Anberlin have finally hit the big time, we have to wonder how long it will be before the next Anchor & Braille album, or even if there will be a follow up.
But for now, we can sit back and revel in the glory that is 'Felt'. // 10