Hopefully, I got someone’s attention with that – in which case, hello you and I hope you’re having a lovely evening. And I wasn’t lying either, as a quick jaunt over to The Local Strangers’ website (Clicky O’Here) and a few seconds later, after providing your email, vague geographical details and where you leave your spare front door key when you go out of an evening (last bit may not be true, but it never hurts to ask), you will receive not only this lovely new brace of quality tracks from Seattle’s favourite adopted offspring, but also their debut EP which turned out to be my favourite non-album record of last year.
Normally I put all the linky stuff at the end of my posts (which suggests that I have some sort of structure. Don’t let this fool you), but I read today that Joseph Arthur has lost his distribution and radio teams since/because he gave his last album out over the internet for free and this has annoyed me a bit, as it strikes me as a bit stroppy of them. Anyway, there you go. And so, on with the matter of this new record.
Devils and Ghosts is very much a game of two halves, as any good pairing should be. Opener Devil And A Stiff Drink sees the twosome fire up with a full band behind them, allowing vocalist Aubrey Zoli to throw herself cheerfully into the centre of it all, her voice switching from sultry to powerful belting-out with a joy that is obvious and an accuracy of both melody and strength which is constantly unerring and remarkable. This will become the theme tune of many a Drinky Thursday to come, of that I am certain.
The flipside to this is Give Up The Ghost (a-ha! I see what they’ve done here), with Aubrey again taking centre stage but this time in melancholic resignation mode, swapping sass for sadness. Matt Hart’s delicate acoustic intro soon gives way to further band-based embellishments, but the layers here are much more restrained and moving than on the previous track, allowing the vocals to once again sail through the midst of the song imperiously, reminiscent to these ears of Rickie Lee Jones at her most emotionally-wounded.
With the main focus of both tracks being this amazing voice, Devils And Ghosts comes across as a much more feminine release than their previous EP, and this – along with a greater emphasis on a more collective performance – makes for an interesting expansion on their sound rather than a step away from (the quality of songwriting makes these songs sound good whether it’s with a full band or just Aubrey & Matt performing them), paving a tantalising path towards what we should hope for their first full-length album. And just as with their first record, I urge everyone reading this to give them a go.