Tow’rs - Grey Fidelity
The eleven song release from Arizona five piece Tow’rs, Grey Fidelity, continues in the same vein as 2016’s The Great Minimum while further deepening the pensive songwriting style established by the band’s earlier work. Despite the fact that the band’s vocal and songwriting presentation largely revolves married couple Kyle and Gretta Miller, Tow’rs never fails to sound like anything less than a band who have been playing together for years and provide selfless and inspired accompaniment to each other’s efforts. They are able to present their unique point of view within recognizable forms that never aspire to imitation – instead, they invoke the familiar with an individualistic twist and their powerful flair for crouching otherwise quite adult subject matter within otherwise entertaining musical frameworks. Melody is never far away on Grey Fidelity, but it might and often does take on expressions that are outside the normal purview of popular bands.
“Girl in Calico” serves notice to newcomers that Tow’rs is a band who does things their way. It isn’t a song that obeys the traditional rules of structure – atmospherics guide the way and only instruments like Kyle Miller’s voice and the lightly reverb-ed guitar line running through the cloud of keyboard and synth sounds emerge with the sort of clarity you’d expect. Choosing to begin the album with a fade in is further evidence Tow’rs follows their own Muse and it pays off for them here. There’s a deliciously traditional feel to “Revere” all the more impressive thanks to how thoroughly modern it continues to sound. The vocal harmonies are very strong here. One of the album’s real aching points comes with the demurely titled “Alright”. Even a cursory listen to the track will convince all but the dimmest that the speakers in this song are far from alright, but the fact they confront such bitter truths about life and relationships strikes a chord with the album’s theme of preserving hope.
“Liminal” is one of the more interesting songs on Grey Fidelity. It seems to betray some traditional Americana elements, but utilizes an arrangement that will seemingly reveal something with each new listen and has some interesting rhythmic shifts along the way. Those same Americana elements return to the fore on “When I’m Silent”, but their use is more selective than before and thus never exerts the same sort of effect over the performance’s ultimate flavor. The vocal is quite lovely despite the apparent weightiness of the subject matter. “Consolations” is a shockingly slinky number with an artsy edge that never risks pretension. They bring together string music influences with fill-oriented electric guitar and expertly recorded drums that give their sound a real snap. “Revelator Man” is full of chiming guitars and a slowly striding tempo that gives both Miller a chance to stretch out vocally and shows off more of the subtlety defining this album at its best. The album ends with “I Can’t Help Myself” and, despite the enjoyable musical performance, one feels a little uncomfortable thanks to the clear desperation coming through in both the vocal and lyric content. The speaker, nonetheless, is still standing at the end. Catharsis comes in a lot of ways. Tow’rs has worked through some sort of catharsis on this collection and it results in their best recording yet.
9 out of 10 stars