Bradford Loomis and Beth Whitney recently teamed up to record what is sure to be one of the best albums to come out of the northwest in 2014. They are set to release The Banner Days on August 23 and they sure picked a great name for the project. There is much to love about this one.
In reading some of the back story about how the album came to be it seems like fate brought these two talented musicians together. After spending a few hours writing they thought they had stumbled onto something great and indeed they did. The musicianship and production on The Banner Days is nothing short of top shelf work. The instrumentation is blended in such a way that you almost don’t know they are there but make no mistake, they are there and they are brilliant. The guitar and piano work combined with some well placed violin leads to an irresistible audio blend. Toss in a ukelele, pedal steel, a banjo and an upright bass and the ante gets raised even higher. In addition to Beth and Bradford, Beth’s husband Aaron Fishburn lends his upright bass skills and backing vocals.
The Banner Days is seven powerful songs to be released on MTS Records. The album starts out with “My Beloved”, the first song they wrote together. The tune begins with Beth showcasing her beautiful voice instantly accompanied by some great picking and Bradford jumping in with perfectly matched harmonies. They take turns singing lead on this song, with the other being quite comfortable in the supporting role. The piano and the string arrangement on this song are fantastic additions and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a prettier song anywhere. As the tempo builds and with the sound of a huge drum ushering in the crescendo, they find the vocal sweet spot together. The song ends with the whispering voice of Bradford begging for his jaded lover to “come back to me”.
On “Wanted Man”, Loomis belts out the words showing off his own incredible voice. While his vocals on this song are reminiscent of Gregg Allman, it has a sound all it’s own. The song possesses an upbeat melody that would be impossible to place a genre tag on, which is pretty consistent throughout the rest of the album. There are hints of americana, country, country blues and adult contemporary just to name a few. And each song seems to borrow a little bit of each rather than just trying to follow some oftentimes tired and worn out formula.
The entire album plays well from front to back and although I really loved the whole thing, the first and last songs were the ones that moved me the most. They were excellent selections to serve as bookends for the rest of this epic release. On the final track Beth is crying out for her brother with haunting vocals and Loomis lends his voice to compliment her but yet he never overpowers her.
This seven song masterpiece should be a part of everyone’s music collection and will surely leave the listener wanting more, it did us.
Track Listing for The Banner Days:
- My Beloved
- Come Dance With Me
- Banner Days
- From Dust to Dust
- Song In My Head
- Wanted Man