Johannasvisions: What would you say is the biggest difference from the previous album?
Alexander Pettersen: I guess you could call it “the evil twin”…
The follow-up to The South’s 2013 album “The Further Inside You Go…” is a more demanding affair, but also an even more rewarding one. It opens with the 11 minute song, No Escape/Don’t Let Go, a track that is quite a departure for the band.
We’re no longer in the southern parts of the USA (well, not all the time anyway) it sounds like an Alan Parsons produced english band from around 1973. It swirls and changes its course as we listen, and this is something that we will encounter on the following songs as well. It starts off with gentle guitar and vocal, the sound is very delicate. The vocals are repeated and doubled, we get a subtle choir. The mood gets darker, but at about 2:40 into the song the drums and electric guitar lifts us up. The Keyboard echoes the melody. The pedal steel comes in, but it has no country-twang, it is airy and elegant. What a great start!
JV: The country-sound is all but gone, is this a conscious choice or did it “just happen”?
AP: It is not something we decided, it is a natural progression for us, I think.
I write the songs I do, the only decision-making concerns choosing songs for the record, and the way we put them together to form a complete album.
This time I wanted to do something new, something else than before. And we did, we managed to pull off something special, something “more” than we’ve done before. I think we have succeeded in this, especially on the tracks, 1,2/3,5 and 6.
Desert Sounds takes us into more familiar territory, to the breezy Californian coast line. It starts off with a strumming acoustic guitar and then a beautiful melody hovers over the acoustic. The guitar is doubled and the keyboard fills in. It is a very finely arranged intro to the track, Glimpse of what we had. The South is in no hurry, they take their time and it builds up wonderfully. I see it as one song.
The second part of the track has a more up-beat melody, but the lyrics are filled with longing for past times and are bittersweet in tone. The electric guitar in the song is an Allman Brothers/Grateful Dead mix, but new and fresh and not retro in feel at all. The bass is subtly restrained and incredibly well played.
Glimpse of what we had (Spotify):
Now, The South takes us for a ride into, well, “The South” as in the musical landscape of the Southern US. They give us a superb Muscle Shoals sounding song, We Got Lucky. A lover reassure his girlfriend that all will be all right and we believe him. The track has some very fine horn arrangements (by Bendik Brænne) and both The Band and Little Feat would have been proud to include it in their catalogue.
Then we’re back on the road, we get a rousing boogie/Texas shuffle in the raw, Psb6u-blues. A steady “motor rhythm” of an accord on el-guitar lays the foundation, and we get a playful guitar that’s just “all over the place” above the steady beat. And then more guitar and keyboard. It reminds me of driving or taking the train, traveling. The vocal starts at 3:35(!) and it is no sweet blues, it is aggressive and insisting. It ends in a wild crescendo and I long to see it in a live setting. It is just fabulous, so far this is my favorite song on the record along with the last track, …The Further Out You Get.
The South – Psb6u-blues (audio with pictures from the recording of the album):
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