Music Review: The Ginger Envelope by uncdiversions
July 1, 2009, 7:50 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Ginger Envelope

Invitation Air

(One Percent)

Don’t mistake the Ginger Envelope for another Fleet Foxes wannabe. Just like the ingredient that comprises half its name, the Los Angeles band packs a punch, and on Invitation Air, their latest release, the group proves that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Unlike many other folk or alternative acts, Ginger Envelope’s musicianship never feels overpowering or superfluous-instead, the band manages to meld Patrick Carey’s delicate vocals with mournful riffs a la Wilco. This balance of vocals and instrumentals adds texture and depth to tracks that might otherwise fade into the plethora of similar alt-country groups.

One of the most impressive aspects of Invitation Air is its diversity. Ginger Envelope changes tempos, styles, and lyrics deftly, maintaining a unified sound while exploring numerous different tones and genres. The group keeps its folk identity intact while exploring various shades of lyrical simplicity and melody-one track meanders slowly through the mind of a chronic loner, while a few songs later, upbeat banjos and fiddles narrate the story of a swimmer.

Throughout invitation Air, the band masters the fine line between inaccessibility and innovation. On “Stray,” it’s hard not to be drawn in by the loneliness inherent in the song’s haunting harmonies and tortured lyrics. “Half Awake (Roddy)” demonstrates the group’s ability to write great, slightly off-beat lyrics as Carey sings, “You stayed half awake and watched the paradigm decay.”

While the vast majority of the album is exquisite, Ginger Envelope’s esoteric lyrics occasionally become bogged down in pretension and cultivated eccentricity. “May you curl up tom-cat coddled, and break for more,” Carey sings on album opener “Turn Into Tempests,” loading frustrating obscurity on an otherwise-unblemished record.

While it isn’t quite perfect, Invitation Air is by and large a masterful and original effort. Ginger Envelope might initially seem like another run-of-the-mill folk group, but this record makes it clear that the group is capable of accessible innovation that could very well be the ingredient for an enormous success.

The Ginger Envelope plays Local 506 Thursday night with Athens, Ga. group Madeline and the White Flag. The show starts at 9;30 p.m. and costs $8.

– By Diversions Staff Writer Linnie Greene


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