Orange County trio Echo Sparks, featuring C.C. Kinnick on vocals and guitars, D.A. Valdez on vocals, guitars, banjo, and drums, and Cindy Ballreich on upright bass and mandolin, released a new full-length album last month, Ghost Town Girl. It brings together country and folk rock, mixing in the blues, rock, rockabilly and other old school genres as they see fit.
The most striking feature of this album are the harmonies that are featured in almost all its tracks. It seems at times that Kinnick and Valdez’s vocals are travelling together down a dusty path in perfect harmony. Kinnick’s vocals also bring a certain sweetness to the entire album, even to the darkest of its offerings.
The tracks can be loosely categorised into two groups: the foot-stompers and the folksier ones. Nary a foot will be able to resist the tempo in “Rolling 60’s”, the rockabilly-indebted “Princess of Fresno”, and “Shallow Water”. There is something imperfectly perfect about the opening seconds of “Rolling 60’s” which reflect the limited post-production the band boasts of. “Princess of Fresno” features some of the best drumming on this album, and a mandolin gives “Shallow Water” a colorful country flavour.
Echo Sparks reflects its folk inspiration in “End of the Line” (which features birds chirping in the background) and the slow and rather romantic-sounding “Mexican Moon”. The drums guide the guitar-driven melody in the same way one might expect two dance partners to interact, making for a great first dance option for folk music lovers. Both “Mexican Moon” and “Broken Arrow” feature some great guitar twangs, the former of the gentler sort, the latter of a more decisive one.
Echo Sparks ends their album with the darker “Torch Song” and the gentle, yet vibrant folk rocker, “I Think It’s You”. Aptly enough, “Torch Song” carries a torch for Kinnick’s vocals, which are featured almost exclusively throughout its almost four-minute run. The tone of the song is more seductive in its low, rhythmic beat and Kinnick’s more aggressive vocals, which somehow manage to remain somehow sweet in their anger.
With its dynamic instrumentation—even on the slowest and mellowest of its tracks—and tight vocal harmonies, Ghost Town Girl makes for a relaxing listen that is perfect for a lazy weekend morning. The album can be streamed in full on SoundCloud, and various videos are available through the group’s YouTube channel. To keep up with the band, check out the Echo Sparks website.
Pictures provided by Independent Music Promotions.
[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00SAHYYL6]