Reviewed by Matthew Cordle
There are times when you pop a CD into your player, skip through the tracks and then out it comes again. This is not what happened to Canada's The Royal Foundry's debut CD. Jared and Bethany Salte met at a concert for Jared's band, The Junkyard Poets. Now married, they have just released this, their first collection of songs together. Worlds apart from the style of The Junkyard Poets, this is an acoustic folk/pop/Americana collection characterised by banjo, guitar and vocal interplay, accompanied by a variety of other acoustic instruments and percussion. Stylistically and musically reminiscent of Gungor, descriptive words that spring to mind are refreshing, spacious, whimsical, clean, beautiful. There's a simplicity to the sound of much of the arrangement that belies the amount of work I know is required to craft the freeform feel, the element of unpredictability in the song structures, the interesting use of musical contrasts in songs such as "Beautiful Thing" and "Waiting" - just when you think a song has peaked it drops down for an extended meditative section. Jared's and Bethany's voices meld together perfectly, whether exchanging lead lines or providing harmony support for each other. Lyrically, subjects covered are life, love and relationships in the world vs. the biblical perspective. The challenge of "Abraham" is highlighted in the line, "If God gave me a son could I take my gun and say, 'Lord, not my will but thine'...change my heart from deep within"; "In The Middle" deals with keeping the marriage bed pure before marriage; and the gorgeous "Waiting" is, according to Jared, about being lukewarm in your faith. I say "according to Jared" as it is sometimes very hard to make out Bethany's words when she's singing quietly. That minor issue aside, a stunning debut.
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