Based in San Diego, The Liquorsmiths - billing themselves as a folk-rock band - offer up six songs with their latest EP, 'This Book Belongs To'.
The band almost sounds like a Bob Dylan cover band because of Drew Thams' vocals, which are just as distinctiveness as Dylan's if not as dynamic. On one or two of the tunes, it's difficult to distinguish whether or not Thams is singing or speaking, which can be both disconcerting and distracting.
Of the six tracks on 'This Book Belongs To', the highlight is 'Thief'. Beginning with an acoustic guitar, cross stick snare and light, upbeat keyboards, it soon dials down with the vocals, before escalating again when the chorus rolls around. The refrain is wonderful and the melody is contagious. 'Thief' is an excellent tune on which The Liquorsmiths emphasize their SoCal country rock roots.
The other five tracks span the spectrum of not-so-good to mediocre. 'Coy With Me' is a laid back folk rock number; the melody is average, while the vocals display awkward phrasing, as if the vocalist has never sung the song before. 'Get Well Soon', a soft-SoCal rock piece with an admittedly good beat and melody, resonates with those Dylan-esque vocals, but they are just enough 'off' to sound plastic and stiff. It rather spoils the music.
'Iris' Song' is a slow, quasi-ballad with yet more phrasing glitches; along with a watered-down melody, the tune is ineffective. A syncopated beat introduces 'Devil I Do'. There's a hint of reggae there, but it does not mix well with the boring melody.
Possibly the shakiest song on the EP is 'Day By Day' which is an amateur-hour, beatnik number that not only seems out of place on this album, but would certainly seem so on any contemporary collection out there.
While the aforementioned appears harsh, The Liquorsmiths exhibit excellent instrumentation and, for the most part, the arrangements are pretty good. In other words, the trio has talent, and Thams' voice works under the right conditions: upbeat, SoCal country rock along the lines of Poco or Jackson Browne. The Liquorsmiths might do better if they simply go with their strengths.
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