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The Essex Green | The Long Goodbye (Merge/Track and Field)
Brooklyn's unsung heroes are back with the much anticipated latest instalment of their very own brand of melodic folk pop. The psychedelic sheen of 1999s 'Everything is Green' has been toned down significantly here, replaced by a more polished and accomplished sound. The country music and hints of early '70s classic American songwriting influences are still there, and you are once again left astonished by the playful and melodic awareness on display. Opener By The Sea is as sweet as a Carpenters song, while The Late Great Cassiopia is Stax soul led by guitar a la John Fogerty. Our Lady in Havana (reputedly one of your editor's favourite tracks of the year) is very dramatic, a great Morriconi-ish string arrangement bringing the song to an even more dramatic end. Twin vocalists Sasha Bell and Chris Ziter bringing a variety of styles and colours to proceedings as the album progresses.
'The Long Goodbye' was recorded in a rented houses outside Woodstock, very much in line with the band's desire to recreate the atmosphere of the area in the '60s. They have succeeded splendidly, and although duties for 'The Ladybug Transistor' (new album due soon) are pending, let us hope that The Essex Green will find the time and energy to introduce their own songs into the set when they tour here later this year.
CWAS #12 - Summer 2003