Making Better People
The Slip - Angels Come On Time
The beauty and force emanating from the dynamic three is known to bring out the best. Articulating these feelings is not an easy task, but for anyone who has taken part in The Slip experience knows exactly what I am talking about; the elevating consciousness, freedom and love dancing in the air and through the hearts and minds of those swimming in the Pleasant Presence of the Present Tense.
The travels and wonders and sounds of the triumvirate are encased in the 12-track melodic pictorial Angels Come on Time, the band’s major label debut on Rykodisc. With portions of the album recorded in Trey’s famed Barn and in the Barr’s hometown of Providence, Rhode Island, Angels Come on Time is a snapshot taken at a time when many consider the band to be at it’s highest point. Mingling lyrical intelligence with instrumental genius and the right touch of studio work, subtle enough to capture the band’s openness, the record flows through all facets of the trio’s flavorful stylistics which have been capturing hearts and minds for the past seven years.
“Landing” is a truly apropos introduction, creating the serene landscape the band is known for at the beginning of each performance. This sets a wonderful tone for the low-end dirty funk of “Get Me With Fuji.” Marc Friedman’s minimalist bass line provides the foundation for Brad Barr’s searing guitar line, somewhat reminiscent of Frank Zappa. Dipping into some down-tempo and back to the head again, this track is fully representative of the trio’s live instrumental experience harkening back to the days of the olde Choppin’ Block.
“Sometimes True to Nothing” cements the band in rock stardom. Opening in tranquility, Brad Barr sings and plucks soft banjo as the ultra-dynamic Andrew Barr provides percussive coloring and vocal accompaniment. Accented by the brilliant tenor work of long-time friend Timo Shanko, this track is the album’s most notable for it truly encompasses all of the trio’s slight and power. The percussion heavy and spoken word elements of “Tinderbox” once again shine light upon the trio’s abilities to adopt worlds of varying styles in an engaging amalgamation of instrumental resilience.
A step away from the majority of the themes of the record, "Stomping Grounds” is a down-home, knee slappin’, toe-tappin’, hand clappin’, sittin’-on-the-porch-singin'-songs number recorded by Brad Barr in September of 2001. The 52-seconds of old-time Delta Blues even sounds like it is from those days when your whiskey drinkin’ women were always leaving you.
Gloved in some genius artwork (all old receipts ranging from Japanese grocery lists to luggage tags to postage bills), Angels Come on Time is a pure representation of the extraordinary and sublime devices contained in the music of The Slip, but one can say it is only that. Not many chances were taken with this record, there were no attempts to really reach beyond and find what else may be. The present tense is clearly defined, the map is drawn and the destinations are all pinpointed, but this ship does not venture off course to explore any uncharted lands. It is an astounding feat to be part of a major label and as their debut the album is excellent, but I know that The Slip has much more to offer, as their music is a guiding light to the ways of living we all should adhere.
JamBase NYC Correspondent
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