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Salesman's vocals-centric folk tunes offer a diverse listen

September 1, 2012

After I covered Lord Buffalo’s excellent EP, I was informed that the same group of musicians compose another band, named Salesman. Instruments are swapped, lead vocals are exchanged, and different-sounding music is made. Where Lord Buffalo’s folk sound has a cinematic, wide-angle feel to it, Salesman’s The Wasp EP has a much more earthy, communal intimacy.

Not that these are all weepy folk strummers. Salesman is far more characterized by its vocal melodies and patterns than any other instrument. “I Will” is an ominous a capella tune augmented only by rumbling tom, whoops and yells. It is positively intimidating. “Taos Hum” has a few more instruments going on, but it’s still distinguished by a vocal performance reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” “Giving Up (Easy Way Out)” feels like a continuation of the mood from “Taos Hum”; it’s easy to hear them as one song. “Fly Bird Fly” is a little more electronic, but it’s still firmly within the menacing, ominous, rhythm-heavy tone that Salesman has set for the songs here.

However, the opener and closer are nothing like the internal tracks of the EP. “Five Years” is a pastoral rumination, reminiscent of Fleet Foxes’ slow-moving, unfolding folk. “Ella” is an a capella track, but it’s far closer to a barbershop quartet than the pounding “I Will.” It’s the most memorable track on the album, a tune that seems to stop time for four minutes. With no instruments but voices, the song is stripped of its external markers of what should happen when; it becomes simply a free-floating, melodious experience that I didn’t want to end.

Salesman’s The Wasp EP is a diverse, interesting listening experience. If you’re up for something outside of the norm in your folk listening schedule, this will hit that spot.

Stephen Carradini and Lisa Whealy write reviews of instrumental, folk, and singer/songwriter music. We write about those trying to make the next step in their careers and established artists.

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