Swaggering and full of autumnal swing in “Galway City.” Exotic and rich with mystique in “Je Suis Coureur Des Bois.” Driven by chiming power pop melodies in “Best Friend Song.” Strutting to a familiar groove in “Sweet Maryanne.” No matter the tempo or the tone they’re employing in the new album Roots & Stones, Scythian sound like a band completely at ease with their identity in this most recent studio work.

SCYTHIAN URL: https://www.scythianmusic.com/

Out just in time to warm up the December chill, Roots & Stones is comprised of the striking hybridity of “Virginia (ft. Catie Parker Fedoryka),” retro harmonies in “Men of the North” and scathing commentaries of “The Fight;” its greatest linchpin comes in the form of its intimate stylization, a refreshing find amid a year like 2020. While I’d stop short of saying that it’s able to escape the foreboding overtones of a quarantine-era release, the insularity of the new Scythian LP isn’t presented in the same fashion so many of its contemporaries might. A progressive concept backs numbers like “The Bruce,” opening cut “Broken String” and “Sail Away Johnny” to the point of making even the most conventional of moments here sound alternative, and I would say some of its most intricate of details are what define its biggest climaxes. 

“Duffy’s Cut” and “Fire in My Heart” are both exceptionally warm vocal tracks, and though they precede something rather dark in “The Motherland,” the segues from one song to the next are nothing but seamless throughout the entirety of this tracklist. The presentation of the lyrics accounts for more than half of the charisma each of these tunes has to offer, but in other songs like Men of the North” and “Galway City,” the strings are telling us a story all their own, almost independently from what the verses have to share.

The production quality is excellent from top to bottom, but I don’t think it’s the reason why the material sounds as enticing as it does. There’s a passion you can’t implement behind the glass in this performance that I have been attracted to since first picking up Roots & Stones just recently, and for me, it’s why tracks like “Fire in My Heart” and “Sweet Maryanne” are as hard to forget as they are. 

If this is just a preview of what Scythian are going to be adding to their body of work in this new decade, I would put money on them developing some of their most acclaimed content yet in the next few years ahead. They’ve clearly got the same amount of desire to fit in with the average groups of musicians as they did at the start of their odyssey – none – and with the love they’re putting into this record, it’s obvious their campaign is nowhere near its conclusion. I’d love to hear a more electrified take on their work sometime in the future, but for what they’re doing in the studio now, Roots & Stones is perhaps as good as it gets. 

Nicole Killian

About The Author

Nicole Killian

Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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