She Keeps Bees – Dig On [Review]

She Keeps Bees have long drank from the same modern blues-rock guitar/drum duo fountain that the likes of White Stripes and Black Keys have, yet Jessica Larrabee’s vocals have given them their own distinct voice.

Dig On is their third offering and was recorded in the rural setting of a cabin in the Catskill Mountains, away from the busy hubbub of hometown Brooklyn, which is reflected in the lackadaisical sounds this record offers.
Following on from their well-received sophomore album, Nests, SKB find a spacious, brooding sound amongst the mountains they recorded in.

With many comparisons to the vocal standards of PJ Harvey and Cat Power, you might be right to scrutinize. Just give Jessica Larrabee the opportunity to give her version of events. This album shows a progression of power and delivery for Larrabee, with perfect restraint at times and the outright belter ending to ‘Saturn Return’ demonstrating the other end of the spectrum.
In tandem with her lulling guitars and lyrics, she manages to immerse you into an almost hypnotic state in ‘Blind To The Cup’ and album closer ‘Burn’.

In achieving blues-rock duo status, there is obviously a partner in crime. This would be the rhythm section, otherwise known as Andy LaPlant. Each track is rather sparse in terms of instrumentation, yet LaPlant’s drumming seems to match the fuzzy guitar step by step with rim shots, off beats and lazy cymbals.
The genius is again in the delivery, on ‘All or None/Dark Horse’ LaPlant allows the acapella vocals to do much of the hard work before building the drums into a brilliant, brief, pounding drum solo.
The limits are obvious, but the invention that the duo apply give the tracks more than you might imagine.

The songs pass by relatively quickly and rather unexpectedly – but this is not always a bad thing. Nearly every track is under 3 minutes and the sparse, rolling feel of the record ebbs and flows, while it never really takes off or loses it’s cool for a moment.
At times the album is longing for a track to build to it’s potential, but settles instead for the subtle refrain that leaves you wanting more each time.

 

-Scott Kerr

 

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