Even if The Sadies’ name doesn’t ring a bell, if you’ve been listening to alt. country for the last few years, chances are you’ve heard them backing Jon Langford, Neko Case or even soul legend Andre Williams. Not content to simply play second-fiddle, the band has turned in a handful of projects under their own name, and their latest happens to be their most focused effort to date.
Favourite Colours paints the band as a mostly instrumentally-minded band, but also sees them mustering a more concerted attempt at vocals. The disc is nearly split in half, with both sides of the band’s songwriting personality interspersed throughout the album. The quicksilver opener, “Northumberland West,” rolls through old country mania as sure-footed as it is erratic. The group’s music isn’t exactly rough-hewn, or at least not from the standard alt. country part of the forest. It has more than a little psychedelica flowing up through its roots. The Sadies have proven themselves adept at channeling roots music through their instrumentation, but here they finally show they have the lyrical chops as well. Pulling from the richly textured harmonies of The Byrds and The Band, the vocal songs here feel like a open vault of ’60s consciousness.
True to its title, the album is full of rich hues and styles beyond the pale monochrome of rote country music. Perhaps the best example of this is the quasi-surf collaboration with Robyn Hitchcock, “Why Would Anybody Live Here.” The track is soaked and sticky with reverb and ringing guitar notes. Hitchcock rides the waves, pontificating, but leaves the listener wondering why, when the sound’s this good, people would want to live anywhere else.
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