Providence, Rhode Island is notorious for its Mob connections, and also for housing the world’s largest termite (it’s 58 feet long and nicknamed the Big Blue Bug.) The city is also home to the members of The Low Anthem. The band have recently been at the centre of considerable hype, supporting Bruce Springsteen, Ray LaMontagne and also our very own Lisa Hannigan; which combination actually isn’t a bad pencil mark for their music. Think of it as two parts Americana to one part hippie. In a good way.
The songs tend towards the slow and plaintive: ballads aiming to tell a story or catch a fragment. They’re populated, it could be said, by the usual old-timey suspects – train yards, gambling men, one last drink – but split with close, echo-chamber harmonies; more flowers-in-the-hair San Francisco than tears-in-the-beer Tennessee. These slow numbers are interspersed with the occasional raspy shoutalong, but it’s the ballads that stick. At their best, they’re beautiful; title track ‘Charlie Darwin’ stands out.
Among the glowing accolades recently levelled at this collection is ‘the second best cabin-in-winter indie album ever made’ and. if one were to quibble, it might be by picking out the influence of a certain Bon Iver on the lilting strains of downtempo ethereana. But the magic touch that this album shares with For Emma, Forever Ago is turning mournful harmony into crowd singalong; and the world probably has room for more than one of those.