Love And The Weather
Love And The Weather
Ltd Edition 12″ vinyl|DL – available on Bandcamp
They may be from Victoria, Australia, but Love And The Weather’s debut EP is a delicious slice of Americana. Gordon Rutherford reviews for Louder Than War.
If you’ve ever seen Paris, Texas, that epic Wim Wenders movie, you will be familiar with the opening scenes. Like a man possessed, Harry Dean Stanton walks the ravaged, arid landscape of the Lone Star state. The sky is massive, the panorama never ending. Love And The Weather don’t hail from Texas, they aren’t even American, but their brand of indie-folk/alt-country/shoegaze sounds like the perfect soundtrack to accompany those images.
In fact, the band hail from Barwon Heads, Australia, but their sound bears comparison with the very best of Americana. They recently announced themselves to the world with the release of their eponymously titled, and quite wonderful, debut EP. This six-track collection is a beguiling gem, built around astonishingly mature songwriting by vocalist/guitarist Natisha Sands and outstanding recording and mixing from Casey Hartnett (Sleep Decade, Sui Zhen, Sagamore).
Despite the sheen of the production, the songs feel close and homespun, almost as though the band are present in the room, playing just for you. Perhaps that intimate feel comes about because Love And The Weather is something of a family affair with two Sands’s (Natisha and bassist George) and two Hartnett’s (multi-instrumentalist Casey and drummer Monty). One only hopes that tenor saxophonist Stephen Elsom didn’t feel too awkward.
The other vibe, as referenced at the top of this piece is heat. Intense, scorched, desert-like heat. It’s a collection that feels like the sun beating down from its apogee at high noon whilst a buzzard circles overhead. It’s a cantina located close to the border. It’s late night noir, motel room ceiling-fan pointlessly whirring above. Much of that feeling is created by the intimate feel to the songs. As the music unfolds, it feels like it’s wrapping itself around you. Constantly present are Hartnett’s resonant guitar lines, which bring a Chris Isaak/Ry Cooder feel; one that feels distant yet so close. When listening, you may want to have an ice-cold flannel to hand.
The EP introduces itself with the dreamy Touch You, an opener dominated by Natisha Sands’s reverby vocal. It’s a decent starter which has the mood of Springsteen’s I’m On Fire, but the main course begins in earnest with the second track. Only Star is a faraway-sounding, late night treasure. It is reminiscent of Lady Lamb The Beekeeper’s work on 2013’s brilliant Ripely Pine, particularly Sands’s voice. Her awe-inspiring pipes and intricate lyrics dazzle on this tune, augmented by Casey Hartnett’s laid back guitar twanging supportively. And when Elsom’s sax kicks in, it’s like honey dripping.
Only Star is quite superb, but the best is yet to come. The following track, Coming Back, is the highlight of this collection. It’s Sands’s best vocal performance, and that’s really saying something. Like an indie torch chanteuse, she turns in a smouldering performance, sounding like peak Tracey Thorn. As it does throughout, George Sands’s bass provides a rock solid platform and, again, Elsom’s sax adds an incredible dimension, creating a moody, late-night atmosphere. It feels like a song that has been created to carry the weight of the world’s broken hearts.
Things stall a little with Feel Ya, the most straight-ahead track on the album. It’s not a bad song by any manner of means, it just doesn’t really progress as imaginatively as its peers. No matter, things quickly escalate again with the superb Heart On My Sleeve. The mood is created by Hartnett’s soulfully strummed guitar, laying a path for Sands’s breathy vocal. Sixty seconds in, it takes a shift in dynamic when Monty Hartnett’s drums kick in. The chord structure is so unexpectedly inventive, hooking you right in. Underpinning all of this is an incredible sounding Theravox, played by Casey Hartnett. This synth sounds like a pedal steel guitar, bringing a real sense of the big country. The EP’s closer, Tornado, is a paired-back ballad built around Hartnett’s Ry Cooder-esque guitar. It’s a lovely conclusion to this incredibly enjoyable collection.
If I had one tiny criticism it would be that it’s all over far too soon. Love And The Weather’s debut is an incredibly enjoyable listen, with plenty enough variety between its six tracks to keep you fully engaged throughout. For an EP, there’s a helluva lot going on. The musicianship and production are excellent and Natisha Sands is a sublime musician and songwriter who also happens to possess the voice of an angel. There’s no doubt in my mind that a big future lies ahead for them and if you take my advice you will get on board now before they become unfashionably famous.
All words by Gordon Rutherford. More writing by Gordon can be found in his archive.