The Schomberg Fair
(I Wont Be Afraid)
2014
Crank this to 9.5 of 11
|    Editor's Pick
Genre:
Folk, Psychedelic rock, Gospel
Sounds Like:
The Sadies, Larry and His Flask, 16 Horsepower
The Schomberg Fair fold four music genres into their very own peculiar style. Take two cups of gospel, throw in another two cups of grass roots folk, half a cup of blues, and powder off the top with a fair amount of psychedelia and there you have it. I Won't Be Afraid is the fourth release from the Canadian based The Schomberg Fair and it will surely inspire your music collection.

Members include:
Matt Bahen - Guitar, Banjo, Vocals
Nate Sidon - Bass, Vocals
Peter Garthside - Drums, Vocals

Most gratifying is the originality and texture to this album. By texture we mean an emphasis on a variety of sonic layers and a very tight distinctive sound. Take the incredibly low range in baritone vocals that creep in throughout the album. Not overdone but a beautiful touch to what makes the The Schomberg Fair so different from today's other folk acts. Think Richard Sterban from the Oak Ridge Boys on depressants. Lead singer Matt Bahen overcame an unfortunate construction accident where he cut off all of the fingers from his left hand. They managed to  reattach the fingers and perhaps this trauma infused even more energy and despair to the lyrics.

The band conjures up dark times and characters in their very heartfelt lyrics. Apocalyptic themes dominate the album. Take the second to last track, "Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down," led by very unique (and uncomfortable) harmonies that become further refined and keep the listener intrigued. The hymnal gospel approach is so engrossing as they splash so many unique sounds around the steady message. Neil Young-esque guitar melodies then blend into this wild psychedelic guitar trip. This is some vibrant and original shit.

The first self titled track "I Won't Be Afraid" blends knee slapping rhythm with some very eerie lyrics. "I won't be afraid on my last day, I found the light, I found the light".  Lyrically feels like something out of the Dead Man Walking soundtrack. Very simple opener that really gives you a flavor for the harmonies and tight sound.

The second track "Razor" really takes you away to some dark landscapes within the lyrics; "straight edger razor on my right side... spent 8 months fighting the cancer war". Bahen's vocals are quite raw and tarnished. Tarnished beauty we should say. This track has one of the heavier edges to it with some tremendous wawa peddle action and stoner rock influences.

Interestingly the band uses a steady melody throughout the album that creates a connectivity with each of the songs. We are not calling this a concept album, but the album certainly sets a mood and does not sway much from its dark aura. This steady melody is most prominent in Track 5, "Dust I Go," a beautiful song that makes us want to grab some hiking books and a backpack and trek through the untapped mountainsides. Very inspirational feel but overlaid with what we can only describe as endurance and forbearance.

The last track 'Take Me to the Water' is also another stellar track. Infusing more visceral guitar psychedelia accompanied by an overriding delta blues feel. Peter's percussion work on this track is so rich and well delivered. What a way to cap off a significant album. The abrupt ending is spine tingling.

Track Listing:
1. I Won't Be Afraid (4:20)
2. Razor (4:18)
3. Where Were You (3:09)
4. Fire In the Dark (5:03)
5. Dust I Go (7:04)
6. Drunkard's Prayer (4:29)
7. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down (5:33)
8. Take Me to the Water (6:33)

I Won't Be Afraid
could very well be in our top five albums of 2014. We are thankful to have stumbled upon the Toronto based trio. It is truly refreshing to come across such a distinctive style with such energy and conviction. Your music collection needs this album. Truly inspirational. - 10/14/2014

Standout Tracks: Razor, Drunkard's Prayer, Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
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