Stormy Mondays, a band hailing from the town of Oviedo in Spain, released a double EP last September, the first titled Wading The River and the second, The Lay Of The Land. The collection, totaling 13 tracks that combine folk, rock, Americana, and soul, is the fruit of the efforts of Jorge Otero (vocals, electric and acoustic guitar, tenor guitar), Veillette Gryphon (lap steel, percussion), Pablo Bertrand (piano, organ, electric piano, toy piano, glockenspiel, background vocals), Danny Montgomery (drums, percussions), Dani Menéndez (acoustic and electric guitar, EBow, background vocals), and Rafa Sánchez (electric and fretless bass, bass, electric guitar, ukulele, background vocals). They were helped by Héctor Braga (hurdy-gurdy, violin, violoncello), Juan Flores (tenor and baritone sax, flute, clarinet), and Miguel Herrero (trumpet, flügelhorn, percussion).
The first EP, Wading The River, is composed of six tracks, opening up with the mid-tempo, guitar-led, classic rock and roll-sounding “Love And Fire” with electric keyboard flourishes peppered throughout and a certain country flavour to the melody. The overall effect is quite cheerful and one wouldn’t know from the vocals that the band isn’t based in an English-speaking country. The slower ballad “Nobody Knows” seems to advance the album in time, perhaps in to the 1970s what with the breathy vocals and the guitar-led melody. Here the accent does betray the band’s non-English origins but add to the track rather than distracting from it.
In “Silent Star” the band brings in an almost throbbing, jazzy flavour to its EP, with the touches of supporting strings giving the melody a certain fragile feel. The loud and almost triumphant “Struck By Life” brings back energy and a higher tempo to the table. This Americana-tinged rock number does seem a little restrained and could’ve improved with some stronger vocals. The saxophone solo near the end really brings to mind someone who is happy about being alive. In using horns and an organ to build a now familiar-sounding track, the slow-tempo “One Note (Rock and Roll)” keeps things fresh. “Never Enough” brings back the same sounds from the EP’s opener, albeit at a much slower tempo.
The following EP, The Lay Of The Land, makes great use of an acoustic guitar around which the mid-tempo melody is built. These two give the track a certain Latin-sounding flavour, while delicate notes played here and there on what sounds like a very unique percussion instrument gives it an almost-dreamy feel. The same Latin flavour persists in “My Lil’ Darling”, this time only because of the acoustic guitar-led melody. This track, in sharp contrast to all the others on the two EPs up to now, seems stripped of a lot of extra layers.
“Merry-Go-Round” and “Moon Almost Full” seem to be explorations into Irish inspired highlights, what with the gentle organ-led melody in the former and the enthusiastic fiddling in the latter. “The Finish Line” is a laid-back, drum- and guitar-led track that sets The Lay Of The Land gently to bed. And while these two EPs make for a very interesting and sometimes even intriguing listen, there does seem at times that there is something missing. It’s as if Stormy Mondays has yet fully laid claim to the big shoes it wants to fill.
Images provided by Independent Music Promotions.