With the simplicity of a group of old friends playing music at the kitchen table, La Strada’s tenderly intimate self-titled EP is a lovely assortment of songs.
Led by former aspiring astronaut and songwriter James Craft, New York's La Strada is a humble collective of exceptional musicians sharing their gifts with us and with one another. Spiced with vocal harmonisations, accordion, viola, violin, cello, bells, guitar, percussion, horns, and bass, this is one band worth following to the ends of the earth.
The strings pull and sway on the beautiful “Orphan” to open the EP. Things reach near-orchestral heights and the violin, viola, and cello pull the listener in. The song’s smart fade-out is outstanding.
An accordion leads the way on “Sun Song,” a delightful little ditty that sparkles like the sun against a spotless glass window. Sipping a tumbler of lemonade while planning an afternoon of outdoor activities isn’t a requirement here, but it sure sounds nice when Craft’s vocals soar towards the chorus.
It’s probably quite appropriate that the back of the EP jacket features a selection of wooden chairs in a circle with one pushed a little more towards the centre. This assembly of jubilant companions shines through on the record, allowing each member of the group to stand (or sit) in support of one another.
A cheerful whistle pours over acoustic guitar to begin “Loved You All Along,” introducing us to a world of “refund animosity” and pure tuneful paradise.
The blissfully motivating melody of “Flying” feels just like soaring over the clouds, perhaps dipping below to sample water from a sun drenched pond or a glimpse of children playing in a park. The song is abundant, expansive, magical.
Listening to La Strada’s EP is like venturing to another world and another time without leaving the ground. The blend of accordions, strings, horns, guitars, and voices is alluring in its unfussiness and stylishness. There may only be six songs on the EP, but La Strada has constructed a beautiful piece of music that will stand the test of time.