Daily Song Study

The Decemberists – Sons and Daughters

In songs on February 6, 2012 at 9:16 am

As mentioned before, doing retro right is tricky. One of the most innovative bands in that regard has been The Decemberists. They have retrieved the idea of progressive folk a la Fairport Convention and mixed it with all manner of modern influences, while using a lyrical vocabulary better suited for the 19th century than the 21st. Somehow, it works.

On this tune, they’ve even revived the melodic device known as a round, as in “row, row, row your boat.” Set against wheezing harmoniums and buzzing bouzoukis at first, the song at first appears to be a straight throwback. Slowly, though, layers are added, each more modern than the one before. The dynamic break three minutes in gives way to a tremendous unison chorus that makes a perfect album ender, as this tune is.

A sort of side note: Though the days of the album form are waning, I have a fascination with songs which seem (and often are) custom-made to close a record. There are certain artists who are better at it than others (Genesis comes to mind, as does U2). It is a dying art, although as a poor musician I certainly see the value in being able to release music in a less cumbersome format. But it’s good to see modern artists like The Decemberists embracing the challenge for a few last hurrahs.

  1. […] In yesterday’s study the words Fairport Convention came up, and it reminded me of this tune. […]

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