Take Me With You When You Go
Sodastream. Wow. I’ve been a fan pretty much since I heard Looks Like A Russian* many many eons ago, and I guess that means I’m not entirely qualified to give an unbiased view of their latest EP *Take Me With You When You Go, but you know what? Objectivity’s pretty much always elusive and a bit of love never killed anyone. So there.
On first listen you’re going to be coaxed into said state of love: it’s the usual Karl Smith and Pete Cohen combination that is at once calming and intriguing, where the interplay between acoustic guitar, double bass and voice is immediately affecting. But there’s more – and it’s something that you’re not going to pick up until you give it some time.
It’s like they’ve recognised their given ability to affect, and are keen on seeing where they can go with it – so that they’ve still got the songs, the killer songs, that made The Hill For Company* and A *Minor Revival such essential releases both in Australia and abroad, but they’ve reached the point where it’s not about repeating the territory they’ve traipsed over so many times before. This EP is, quite obviously, the moment where they sit down and mull over where else their music can go.
And the results they came up with?
Number One: The narratives. Lyrically, Karl explores what could be considered pretty new territory for the two piece. He crafts detailed vignettes of the lives of characters that (presumably) aren’t him – which is a shift for the guy, and a shift that befits him. Somehow, it’s still intimate, but intimate in the sense that Karl’s taking narrating the soundtrack of his subject’s life, and he’s right next to you doing it.
Number Two: There’s still the plethora of guests and diverse instrumentation, but the approach has changed. Sodastream have taken more risks, and in terms of expression it’s meant that the abovementioned narratives flourish with a development in both structure and music. I can’t help thinking that each of the instruments takes on a character, and a well-travelled one at that. It’s like the trombone, or the saw, or harmonium, or indeed the baritone backups each brings something to the tales you’re eavesdropping in on, and that they somehow legitimate your eavesdropping; simply because they’re so damn great that it would be a crime if these stories weren’t heard by more.
Number Three: There’s an (inland) sea shanty kind of song! Really. ?Cotton Fields? is the song of the EP, there’s so much happening, so much joy and so much synchronicity in its apparent randomness.
This release does exactly what a release in between albums should be doing – it’s an exploration of Sodastream’s sound that has undoubtedly benefitted from the freedom an EP presents. I know that they recorded this themselves, for the first time, and I’ve no doubt that the lack of time constrictions helped out with the whole freedom thing, too. But, ultimately, I think the diversity hidden within Take Me With You When You Go?s cohesion is the result of a band who are eager to explore the parameters of songwriting, and who have the adeptness to do it well.