Sound — 9
This might on, first glance, seem to have been "done before". The Pogues and Dropkick Murphies both mixed celtic folk with popular rock'n'roll. Acoustic guitars backing up distorted licks was the very recipe for the alt-rock power ballads of the '90s. But Carbon Leaf have more tricks than these up their sleeves, my friend. Both country, Bryan Adams-flavoured pop-rock and '60s folk-rock (particularly Simon and Garfunkel) have been mixed into this astonishing album. There are no apparent templates to this record. Each song seems to be stuctured differently, the guitars, mandolins and similar vary refreshingly. The seamless transitions from something Vertical Horizon could have made to something Loreena McKennitt could've come up with, are simply superb.
Lyrics — 10
Apparently, all the band's lyrics are written by singer Barry Privett, who in turn does not interfer with the instrumental part of the equation. Privett is in today's world one of a kind. His lyrics are introverted, contemplative, but in contrast to, for example, Ryan Adams, hopeful, light-hearted and positive. "Life Less Ordinary" is wonderful in this aspect, as the theme of the song is unrequited love; instead of moaning about it, as is the norm among today's alt-rock and punk singers, Privett seems quite optimistic about the situation and understands very well the girl in question, asking her to change her mind, instead of begging her to. His lyrics are so sophisticated, warm and poetic that I can only compare him to Paul Simon; sadly, there are no contemporaries. As for Privett's voice, it is so warm, tender and pretenseless, you almost wish you were his kid so you could fall asleep with his lullaby renditions in you ears. A tenor with no apparent accent or style, his voice is the perfect instrument for the strong, beautiful lyrics and his bandmates' musical backdrop. It is truly refreshing to hear melodies that sound very country or folk, conveyed by someone without Irish brogue or a Texan accent.
Overall Impression — 10
Here are my 5 "Indian Summer" favourites: 5. Life Less Ordinary - mostly because of the incredibly original take on the theme in the lyrics, and the cool guitar fill before the chorus, this one is stuck in my head. 4. This Is My Song! - the most upbeat, rocking track, and also the one with the most Gaelic influence. 3. When I'm Alone - a very heart-wrenching melody backed up by some of the softest guitarwork on the record. "Thought you were bluffing/Trampled on you/Went from friends to nothing" 2. Let Your Troubles Roll Away - an "Everybody Hurts" that makes you smile instead of cry. If there ever is a Hippie renaissance, this would be the ideal soundtrack. 1. Changeless - the opening bass-line and march drums stand out on this album, and the rest of the song is absolutely mesmerising in it's honesty and humanity; it isn't about love and death, it's about friendship and taking a deep breath before stepping into the future. Carbon Leaf is the most under-rated and under-played band in the world right know. Indian Summer is their first master piece; hopefully, whatever trends that are keeping this kind of music out of the mainstream will vanish, and the Virginians will get the recognition they deserve.