Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Grand Halls 40

ALBERTA CROSS – “The Thief & The Heartbreaker” CD ’07 (Geffen, US) – Having recently acquired the new, 2nd CD from New York band ALBERTA CROSS it might seem the most apt thing for me to get reviewing that one post haste. But you know what? Doing the most apt thing has never been a prerequisite here at The Realm and so I’ve decided to take a different tack. Let’s rewind then to two year’s prior and 2007’s EP, “The Thief & The Heartbreaker.” It sees the band composed of: Petter Ericson Stakee – vocals, guitar, Rhodes, piano & percussion; Terry Wolfers – bass, vocals, piano & percussion; John Alexander Ericson – organ, Rhodes & vocals; Sebastian Sternberg – drums. “The Thief & The Heartbreaker” takes wing on the insistent rhythm of it’s title song. An ethereal, respectful homage to Neil Young, it burns like “Down By The River” meets The Church. “Lucy Rider” is an echo-y alt.-rocker that could’ve been at home in Athens GA back in the ‘80’s and, in being so has an easy familiarity while still sounding fresh enough to be new for 20 some years down the line. The up-tempo “Hard Breaks” comes next and jaunts along on a sprightly Fogerty-style guitar figure. The spring-in-it’s-step feel comes as a nice dichotomy with the melancholy lyrical overtone of heartbreak / hard break. But as nice an opening trio as this record sports, it’s the final 4 numbers that really see ALBERTA CROSS elevate themselves into something unique. Petter Stakee’s vocals are just glorious in “Low Man.” There’s still the face of Neil smiling over the proceedings but it’s raised here to near-choral elegance. The acoustic chords strummed with measured control offer a sturdy base for the eloquent vox and the sweet Strat fills that bathe the ears. “I’ve Known For So Long” is another plaintive lament with a simply gorgeous chorus. Here’s a melody that could be sung anywhere from a cathedral to a corner bar and be equally at home. The CD is brought to a close by the double shot of “Old Man Chicago” and “The Devil’s All You Ever Had,” the latter’s 6-plus minutes a nearly orchestrated sounding piece belying the number of those in the band. With the follow-up to this disc, ALBERTA CROSS has added a few band members…and upped the ante even further. You’ll read about that one on this site soon enough but in the meantime, start here. Alberta Clipper


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