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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

What the Crow Brings

What the Crow Brings

Earlier this year, free from the intrusive influences of a record label, the Providence-based folk duo of Ben Miller and Jeffrey Prystowsky, known collectively as The Low Anthem, set to work recording their sophomore album from their home studio. The result was the second album to the duo’s credit. Packaged in recycled cereal boxes, “What the Crow Brings” is very faithful to the “Do it Yourself,” independent philosophy of the band.

The result of eight months of recording, “What the Crow Brings,” is slow, melodic, sorrowful, yet overall uplifting. Perfect for those days when it feels like nothing can go right. This second effort from The Low Anthem, whose self-titled debut album was released last year, is an auditory delight, completely unlike anything to be found in today’s mainstream music scene. This is a refreshing change of pace that reminds us of a bygone era when lyrics meant something and songs had substance. Such substance has been lost in recent years, swept aside and replaced with catch phrases. We now live in a time when recording artists can sing about such weightless matters as “lady lumps” and still achieve widespread success.

The CD opens with “The Ballad of the Broken Bones,” which perfectly sets the tone for what is to come. The track incorporates a number of instruments that combine with the duo’s soft-spoken voices to create a melancholy tone that prevails throughout the entire album. Instrumentally the tracks are very experimental. Listeners will be treated to an upright bass, harmonica, and pump-organ, among other unique instruments.

“As the Flame Burns Down” is a delicate and soothing melody that sounds like a whispered interrogation, and shows off the duo’s storytelling prowess. Immediately following is “Bless Your Tombstone Heart,” a powerful and nostalgic tune that at once emanates despair and hope. It is in this track that they peak vocally; the two voices unite at just the right moments to enhance the somber mood.

There are no wasted words or notes in this album. Every beat, strum, and aspiration has meaning. There’s no filler to be found in the album’s 11 tracks, each are worth listening to over and over again. While the majority of these songs have a slow and solemn feeling to them, each one is unique. “A Weary Horse Can Hide the Pain” is depressing and dim, but it is contrasted by “Keep on the Sunny Side,” a quick, upbeat and optimistic tune.

Miller and Prystowsky are still growing as artists and as a team, yet these young men (both in their early 20’s), have already established themselves as capable songwriters with an impeccable sense of rhythm and melody. “What the Crow Brings” is an inspired composition that reflects the promise of this young tandem.

The duo has strong ties to the region and they are currently touring New England. Their next performance will be Nov. 6 at TOAD, 1912 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge. More information on the band can be found at www.lowanthem.com.