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Fair To Midland - Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times Is True CD (album) cover

FABLES FROM A MAYFLY: WHAT I TELL YOU THREE TIMES IS TRUE

Fair To Midland

 

Crossover Prog

4.05 | 80 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
4 stars One of my favorite discoveries in the past few years, and among the best albums of any genre released in 2007 is Fair to Midland and their third studio release ‘Fables from a Mayfly: What I Tell You Three Times is True’. This group’s blend of metal, folk and progressive music was like a sonic explosion of fresh air that summer, and even now two years later this CD still finds its way into my car’s disc player on most of the many treks I make across the Midwestern United States on a regular basis.

I first picked this up at a record store on a whim during a road trip that summer, having never heard of the band but intrigued by the album cover, band and album name, and some of the song titles; all of which suggested a fresh new group whose music was steeped in American folk. That turned out to be sort of true, but the opening blast of “Dance of the Manatee” dispelled any notion this was some sort of rustic, acoustic-strumming, introspective urban folk band. Clifford Campbell opens the first song with a jolt of torrid guitar, then settles down in a fast-paced but controlled tempo just long enough for Darroh Sudderth to warm up his voice before launching into a soaring and explosive vocal rant that fluctuates between heavy folk, metal shrieking and throaty, guttural rap for a fist-pumping rush that returns again and again, offset only by barely-restrained stanzas of freak-out bass, thundering drums and melodic interludes before skidding to an abrupt halt just about the time my blood pressure reaches party stage. An innovative, energetic, and wholly inspiring 4:10 worth of art rock straight out of Nowhereville (aka the lazy burg of Sulphur Springs, a sparsely-populated blip on the map of northeastern Texas).

I have to admit the band doesn’t really stray all that far from this recipe for the rest of the album, but I’m not one to quibble when five guys who are obviously having a blast click so tightly and with such sonic precision. “Kyla Cries Cologne” brings more of the same before the band slows down just a bit to show off their close-up skills on guitar and bare keyboards on “Vice/Versa”, again only for a short while before Campbell and especially Sudderth cut loose again.

The band shows their poetic and rustic side with the galloping American anthem “The Wife, the Kids, and the White Picket Fence”, followed up by a couple more rockers complete with cryptic lyrics in “April Fools and Eggmen” and “A Seafarer's Knot” before showing off their unique heavy folk chops with the tense and melodic “A Wolf Descends Upon the Spanish Sahara”. For another face to their music Sudderth tones down his voice into human range to open “Walls of Jericho”, but he can’t resist showing off his falsetto range on the choruses here either.

"Tall Tales Taste Like Sour Grapes" is the slowest and most restrained tune on the album, but even here Campbell and drummer Brett Stowers can’t restrain themselves completely, and keyboardist Matt Langley plays around with a little nineties new-wave funkiness in between Sudderth’s staccato rants. Like most of the rest of the band’s lyrics I have no idea what Sudderth is singing about, but as the road whizzes by and my ears are filled with the energetic tones I don’t really care either.

Like several other tracks on the album, “Upgrade^Brigade” is a remake off their second album ‘inter.funda.stifle’, but under the tutelage of producers David Bottrill and Serj Tankian this version sounds richer, more densely packed with sound and much tighter than the earlier one.

Finally the band winds down with the spacey, almost ambient “Say When”, belied only by the torpedo voice of Sudderth and Campbell’s whiny guitar chords. A great ending to a thoroughly enjoyable album.

I never cease to wonder at the creativity demonstrated in melding of musical styles more than a half-century after disc jockeys like Alan Freed introduced eager American audiences to that unique blend of Southern blues and rural country known as rock and roll. Fair to Midland are just the latest marvel in that evolution. This is a very highly recommended album from an up-and-coming band, one that should appeal to metal, art rock, progressive folk and just plain rock ‘n roll fans. Four stars.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |

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