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CD Review: The New Amsterdams – Story Like A Scar

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How do you describe natural music?  I mean music that feels as good as that comfortable, old, slightly too big pair of Levi’s you have been holding on to for far too long.  You know the ones; almost white with age, with holes in the knee and arse-fold, there are ripped and faded tags.  The jeans you can't live without.  Once you listen to The New Amsterdams' third album, Story Like A Scar, you may just feel the same way about them.

Story Like A Scar has the feel of Chris Isaak, sometimes, and Cowboy Junkies, occasionally.  A smooth, simple yet intricate structure creates a patchwork quilt of beautiful mellow music.  Acoustic and steel guitar along with several different kinds of piano and pump organ forge an atmosphere of indie/ country/ roots rock that feels like brushed cotton.

Matt Pryor (formerly of the emo indie rock group The Get Up Kids) and band-mates have managed to create songs that have an extraordinary combination of emotional rawness and complex musical textures.  Tracks that have a unique but familiar, comfortable feeling.

“The Death Of Us” is a beautifully sad, broken heart, end-of-love song, and Pryor sings it with perfect nakedness.  “Turn Out the Light” is another emotionally raw song that is only enhanced by Pryor’s uncommonly natural voice.

“Your Ghost” sounds like a Cowboy Junkies-inspired maudlin country/blues track.  Pryor treats this with his usual reverent unpolished vocals.  Echoing steel guitar and deep bass combine to create a beautifully haunting mellow but angry love song.

“A Small Crusade” is a song sung to that part in all of us that is searching for our place in the world, whether that is with family, home or community.  Pryor’s straightforward, homespun, rugged vocals are perfect for this song and this whole album.

With Story Like A Scar, The New Amsterdams have managed to find and define a sound that could be the very wind that blows around the Kansas wheat fields that have inspired them.  Natural, rustic, countrified indie rock that makes you feel at home, warm and comfortable.  You must have this CD.

You can hear some tracks at The New Amsterdams MySpace webpage.

About A.L. Harper

  • Scott Butki

    Great review, as always. You captured perfectly
    how I felt about this album. I especially love
    the vocals and some of the lyrics.

  • http://clatch.blogspot.com/ A.L. Harper

    Thanks Scott! I did like this album.