Sometimes I sit on releases. Sometimes I have to think about them for a little bit. Such is the case for the new acoustic record from IO Earth. The album is called Acoustic, Vol. 1, and it released back on September 19th.
I’ve loved IO Earth since their debut album back in 2009. They have always been a little different than anything else out there. On this album, several musicians are involved, primarily Dave Cureton on acoustic guitar, vocals, and bass; Rosanna Lefevre on vocals; Adam Gough on keys; and Luke Shingler on sax. Other guests are present, as well.
So, as you can tell, this is not a full band affair. Each track has a different lineup, so to speak, and the overall style of the album is quite different, too. IO Earth typically makes a modern, fresh sort of progressive rock filled to the proverbial brim with other genres, from pop to world to classical. This album, being an acoustic album, is sort of like a live album for me. That’s how I view it, for some reason. It leans heavily towards blues at times, and the saxophone is used often. There aren’t many beats outside of the use of a tambourine here and there; this is a true acoustic album. Most of it involves Rosanna’s beautiful vocals set up against guitar or piano, and that’s all it really needs, honestly.
This is exactly why I’ve been sitting on the release. This is sort of like a new album, and sort of not. The tracklist is about half re-worked older songs—some of them sounding very different. The other songs are new, but of course acoustic in nature, almost feeling like we might see them show up on a full-fledged release in the future? I’m not sure, but it does make me feel like this record is a side note, not the real deal, if you know what I mean. How do I treat it? Like a live album (most of which I don’t really care for), or something brand new?
Honestly, I still don’t know the answer to that. First of all, there are some great new songs on it, that is true. “Streets” is the single, and it is a bluesy, urban track with fantastic sax and a catchy chorus. I really like that one. However, while there are new songs, the only other new song that includes vocals is the 2-minute “Oh Lala”. It’s a fine song, one with Dave’s vocals and a rousing finish. The other new tracks are all either piano or acoustic guitar, and while they are beautiful (Adam is a great player), it’s not quite what you would expect from new songs.
Yet, I also don’t know how to treat this record because the reworked tunes are seriously reworked. “Take Me” is a personal favorite from the band, and it starts out sounding like the original, but soon delves into the sax. Rosanna sings it in her own way, which definitely took me a bit to appreciate since I love the phrasing in the original so much. I’ve grown to love this rendition, though. “Home” is another one that is quite different. This one has a bluesy canter to it that really gets into your blood, and the song is completely transformed. It’s genius, though, and I really like it.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the band’s third album New World back in 2015 for one reason or another, and a couple of these songs come from that album. I’m finding that I really enjoy them in this format, though. “Fade to Grey” and “Move As One” are both emotional and classy tracks with gorgeous work from Rosanna.
So, there you have it. Acoustic, Vol. 1 is, I assume, the first of multiple acoustic albums, and this one is a success. I don’t feel like I have a new IO Earth album to appreciate, all said and done, but this offering is beautifully performed, brilliantly reworked, and breath-taking in certain moments. I really appreciate the amazing vocals, the detailed acoustic guitar, and the illustrious piano most of all, and I think this release will only continue to grow on me. Still, I can’t wait for another full album from the band.
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