The third full length album from Alberta Cross is a great indie folk-rock album. Recorded in Brooklyn and Woodstock, NY, the latter being fitting as you can hear The Band’s influence across the album. Having split ways with all the other original members, Alberta Cross is essentially Sweden’s Peter Ericson Stakee and a rotating cast of other crack musicians. Peter wrote, sang and played guitar on all of the songs and was joined by Fred Aspelin on drums, Peter Remm on piano and organ, Josh Lattanz on bass and Jason Roberts on guitar. A host of other musicians joined in throughout the album as well. The arrangements and playing are stellar everywhere on the album and Peter’s wonderful voice, like a grittier Thom York mixed with Rick Danko, is showcased throughout.
The album starts with the gentle one minute long song ‘You’ll Be Fine” where Peter’s tender falsetto croons “You don’t need any trouble babe, you’ll be fine” over a pretty acoustic guitar and vibraphone. A standout song on the album ‘Western State’ is a wonderful, feel good folk rock song with great drumming, hopeful lyrics and background vocals that create a dense, full sound until the last verse which gently sings “Working 9-7 just to state your place/have you ever felt the mercy of the western state/yeah you played your life like a house of cards” over just an acoustic guitar before the ending picks back up with added horns “whenever you feel low that’s when your heart goes“. Another great song ‘Isolation’ is a soulful and strong song which begins with intoxicating whistling over the music before Peter sings his heartbreaking lyrics in front of a wicked back beat. ‘The Ghost of Santa Fe’ is easily the most catchy and fun song, with great piano, organ and horns. The slower, more ballad-like songs on this album are equally wonderful. My favorites are ‘Water Mountain’ and ‘Beneath My love’, the former with horns and an intoxicating bass line. Both sound a bit as if Radiohead stayed playing local clubs and cafes. ‘Heavy Words’ is a lyrically thoughtful song that could have easily been written by early seventies Neil Young. The album ends with the heartrendingly gorgeous ‘It’s You That’s Changing’, a six and a half minute song that is a highlight of Peter’s lyrics and tender voice, set over piano, acoustic guitar and goose bump inducing backing vocals. This album is the best, most focused and grandiose work from Alberta Cross to date; from live sounding soulful jams to wonderfully well written folk rock, this album is enjoyable from start to finish.
BEST TRACKS: 3,5,2,12,8,6,11.
RIYL- The Band, Band of Horses, Neil Young, Deer Tick, MMJ, The Felice Brothers.