Sometimes something is released, and whilst technically brilliant or whatever, it would have been better suited to a different time of the year. It’d be like putting out a Christmas record in June. OK, maybe it wouldn’t be quite so dramatic, but you get the idea. Things have their proper time and their proper place, and to mess with that even a little bit throws everything out and makes it all sound wrong.
Adam Torres‘s Pearls To Swine is in its proper time and place, there’s no doubt about that. Opening with ‘Juniper Arms’ is a brilliant move. It’s gorgeously small and delicate beginnings of a simple melody picked out on a guitar – nothing is complicated whatsoever – coupled with an easy, laid-back rhythm and sweet, falsetto vocals, and occasional swell of bowed strings – bring to mind lazy nights in front of the fire (does anyone have real fireplaces these days?), a mug of hot cocoa, and the dog/cat/house bunny by your side, while the rain lashes outside.
Almost half the length of its predecessor, ‘Some Beast Will Find You By Name’ retains the same beautiful, autumnal qualities, but this time, there’s more to the vocals and there’s more of a tale to be told. The frantic strings bring an urgent twist in, mirrored by the vocals. ‘High Lonesome’ changes direction once more; it’s far more chilled, relaxed and sounds more like elevator music, for want of a better phrase. That hot cocoa could be swapped for a glass of whiskey or a full-bodied red wine, the image completed by some smartly, sparkly-dressed folk swaying to the easy beat and chatting in muted voices about the serious things of life.
Well, Pearls To Swine is nothing if not interesting, switching things up again and again at every turn. ‘Morning Rain’ is by far the most upbeat track so far, and we’re only four tracks in. It’s still lofty and verging on the grandiose in the most beautiful way possible. ‘Daydream’ is moody and plods ever-so-slightly, suggesting its namesake without the expected lightness and weird, unnatural quality; instead, it’s heavy and slow.
Each and every track does something different, keeping you on your toes and engaged. It’s easy to imagine that Pearls To Swine would make the perfect soundtrack to a contemporary Western film; the ripple of a river or lake over the hushed tribal beats; the clop of hooves from grazing horses or cattle; the camera panning over lush green landscapes scarred with patches of dust and sand… ‘Mountain River’ recalls a little something of James Taylor – at least in the guitars and sweet backing vocals – but with modern inflection and influence, even if that seems like a lazy reference. If only there was space and time to go into every minute detail; they all paint such different pictures, scenes, and each tells another story that begs to be heard again and again. This could well see Torres featured on many a Best Of 2016 list come Christmas, and deservedly so.
Pearls To Swine was released 9th September via Fat Possum Records.