Wilmington, North Carolina’s Beta Radio threw their hat into the Americana-Folk ring with their debut album Seven Sisters. Ben Mabry and Brent Holloman (the duo behind Beta Radio) have offered up an album that is instantly familiar and undeniably catchy.
Musically reminiscent at times of Bon Iver’s atmosphere heavy For Emma, Forever Ago or the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains of the Moon” from their 1969 release Aoxomoxoa, the sonic landscape of Seven Sisters is sparse but far from empty.
On tracks like “Khima,” “Borderline” and “Brother, Sister,” the slow scrawl of the banjo melody floats through the song and surrounds you like birdsong, coming at you predictably but surprisingly from several directions at once.
Each of the songs on this album stays with you, forming a soundtrack for and changing the shape of the rest of your day.It’s appropriate that a debut album concern itself with creation and Seven Sisters is no exception.
Whether it is the creation of love and a place for that love, as the narrative of the album suggests; or the creation of the universe, as the album’s title and repetition of astronomical and astrological imagery suggests; Beta Radio’s lyrics and music carve out a space in your head and find a way to fit into your own cosmology.
Lyrically, Seven Sisters explores religion, albeit from a couch rather than a pulpit. The religious allusions are subtle and unobtrusive, concerning themselves more with mysticism than proselytization, much like David Eugene Edwards’ 16 Horsepower and Wovenhand.
Line for line, the lyrics are beautiful and surprising. In “A Place for Me” the lines “I wanted not to fight / With my heart but I’ll fight with my fists all night” evoke the heartache of leaving, of lovers’ spats of loss and regret.
The album leaves you with a simple but urgent lyric refrain in “Return to Darden Road”– “Where do you go? / Come back to me / ‘Cause I love you so.” Review by deckfight
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