By: Carlye Wisel
With the vocal capacity of a men's a capella quartet paired with pop-infused busking, Home Alive (self-released) not only highlights Down The Line's accomplishments but also proves their talents translate to the stage.
Recorded live during their month-long residency at Schubas in Chicago, Home Alive thoroughly captures the meticulously crafted and highly versatile sound featured on their three studio albums. But, while Welcome To Flavortown, Please Remember My Name and For All You Break are impressive in their own respects, Down The Line's charm is rooted in the notion that there's something for everyone - mandolin and violin for bluegrass lovers, djembe for the percussionists, harmonic crooning for the blues fans and catchy melodies for the pop enthusiasts - a crucial element that is brilliantly captured in this live recording.
Most of Down The Line's repertoire features a common thread of heartfelt thoughts on relationships, with the boys' thematic bread and butter consisting of tunes about the ladies they've encountered - women who are irresistible, women whom they long after, women they miss, women they want back, and women they still love. But, it's not all about the babes. "Change Your Mind," a song about the four returning to a high school reunion, is one of their signatures, in addition to "Dion," a toe-tapper about a musician who gets thrown into jail. Some lyrics, particularly on these two tunes, can at times lean towards cheesiness, considering the topics at hand. However, Down The Line's infectious, poppy melodies render them endearing and undeniably memorable, an omnipresent detail in everything they perform.
Tears For Fears' "Everybody Wants To Rule The World," the album's sole cover, embodies the characteristics that define Down The Line - goosebump-inducing harmonies and instrumentals detailed enough to draw the listener in, but balanced in order to refrain from becoming distracting.
The cohesiveness of the four members is particularly notable, considering no one is granted "frontman" status. They are a quartet in the orchestral sense of the word, instead of a group of musicians in the contemporary band sense, an aspect that is essential to the essence of Down The Line's camaraderie.
JamBase | Synchronicity
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