Album Reviews

Monocle Band

The Clearing

Artist:     Monocle Band

Album:     The Clearing

Label:     Self-Released

Release Date:     10.20.2017

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Monocle Band draws its unique energy from the magic of the western United States, more specifically Boulder, Colorado. The quintet features the wonderful voice of Monica Marie and singer/guitarist Bill Huston. Marie and Huston met in 2010 and soon started writing songs together, a melding of bluegrass, roots rock, old-time fiddle tunes and the common love of storied lyrics, has shaped the band’s sound over the years. With the addition of Dave Weinand (upright bass), Emily Rose Lewis (fiddle), and Todd May (drums), Monocle Band has released their next sonic destination, The Clearing. Marie and Huston wrote all ten songs, co-wrote one track, “Clear Mud,” and alternate the lead vocals between them. The tracks on the album evoke a lush emotional landscape and the singing and playing will certainly bring you into the Monocle fold.

Opening with Marie’s penned “Medicine,” her voice is fetching in its finessing of the lyrics and striking in its elegance. The ease with which Monocle knits together sturdiness and sophistication of all their influences into an Americana sound is a revelation. Dusty Rider guests on the banjo with good effect on this selection. Marie and Huston’s vocal harmonies blend very nicely on the chorus. Huston’s guitar solo is a fine moment in the music and as a whole, the band’s sound will please both new and old aficionados of the group alike.

“Sad-Eyed Girl” is a new sound for Monocle. With the addition of guest Eric Moon on organ and Huston playing electric guitar, the different sonic textures add up to a fulfilling listen while showing the diversity of the bands talents. Huston’s lyrics are quite weighty, and his guitar solo also flirts in that territory too. Lewis’ violin work is also stellar in its melodic flow and energy.

Monocle Band both lyrically and musically have a sound that is narrative of this American experience, bringing the best of many influences into focus and mixing it with western United States magic to give us The Clearing. The original music brings vivacity to the genre with luscious crooning, unforced virtuosic playing and above all else, excellent songwriting.

—Sylvannia Garutch

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