Album Review: The Last Bison, 'Inheritance'
Immersive backwoods soundscapes and booming folk-chamber arrangements set the tone for The Last Bison’s debut LP, Inheritance. Blending the intricate instrumentals of the Fleet Foxes with the cathartic choruses of Mumford & Sons, The Last Bison finds themselves in the middle of the re-emerging folk renaissance. Inheritance is a charming debut that sacrifices neither authenticity for kitsch, nor accessibility for ardent sophistication.
Chesapeake, Virginia 7-piece folk unit, The Last Bison are gearing up to release their first full length LP via Republic Records on March 5. Their mountaintop chamber sound combines rural instrumentation with classical music sensibilities to create a unique and expansive pastoral sound. Drawing from multiple influences, the band often sounds like an amalgam of the best folk artists. With comparisons to the Fleet Foxes and The Decemberists, The Last Bison explores new aspects of the emerging folk scene. Their debut LP, Inheritance, hits the shelves on March 5.
The 11-track record covers many aspects of the folk genre ranging from the mandolin diddy “Quilt” to the Decemberests-esque “Switzerland.” The song’s beaty verse melodies build into the wide open harmonic choruses. The chamber pop sound is ubiquitous in this album, but the emphasis of the string section becomes most clear during these choruses. The brooding cellos and violins add a depth to the band’s sounds which simultaneously creates a sense of accessibility and intricacy. “Switzerland,” the band’s first single, epitomizes the waves of the new folk sound.
Inheritance reaches into the seldom-explored avenues of folk as well. The Daniel Rossen inspired Grizzle Bear circa Yellow House “Take All the Time” blends a soupy string section with elaborate finger-picked acoustic guitars. Narrative lyrics culminate to the delicate refrain “Take all time that you want from me/If you’re lonesome my dear/Take all the time that you need.” The stripped-down instrumentals match the vulnerable lyrics as the meandering violins complement the gentle guitar melodies. The emotive narrative lament creates a pastoral image of longing and loneliness.
Perhaps the greatest example of this record’s beauty comes from its cinematic opener. The brief track spans merely a minute but also clues the listener into all of the triumphant melodies that ebb and flow throughout Inheritance. Concise and powerful, the exultant guitars, soaring strings, and rising vocals preview the essential artistry that The Last Bison master in Inheritance.
The record itself is a true work of art. Emotional nuances that range from dolefulness to elation match with instrumental ensembles sometimes upbeat and confident and sometimes delicate and vulnerable. The final product is a record that captures a panoramic view of the Virginia mountains and valleys. The highs and lows of the Appalachian south are heard on this album.
Inheritance is online and in stores March 5 via Republic Records. Head here to catch the band’s self-released Quilt.