50thirdand3rd

Fort Defiance – “The Haunts of Youth” Album Review

Just about every other indie album I review comes from a duo. There’s a sort of aesthetic that comes from only two people operating a band. So it only makes sense to see so many do-it-yourself acts utilize the format. Every now and then some of those duos are made up of two people romantically involved.  Of course, an artist’s relationship status is none of a listener’s business, but there’s no denying the intimacy can find its way in the music itself. I could be reading into it a bit much, but I feel that intimacy is the best aspect of The Haunts of Youth, from Fort Defiance on Soul Step Records.

Made up of Jordan Eastman and Laurel Lane, Fort Defiance are often named the hardest working band in indie music by playing over 250 shows a year. With that kind of touring schedule, you can probably imagine how tight the duo’s chemistry is on The Haunts of Youth. And while it’s certainly a big part of their live show, the unexpected frailty is what really elevates the album.

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Instead of a collection of lovey-dovey, sugary romance, The Haunts of Youth showcases a lot of raw honesty throughout most of the tracklisting. No relationship is perfect but not too many duos have the guts to sing about uncertainty, miscommunication, and imperfection. Let alone in a country-esque folk album. A genre mostly made up of cute melodies and quirkiness.

“Shadows Through a Canyon” kick starts the album with a heartbreaking call-and-answer vocal performance sounding like a soundtrack to a breakup. Closing track “Snowfall” takes it a step further with lush instrumentation and fist-clenching emotion. This couple knows how to express their highs and lows in their music and each track has just as many twists and turns as any turbulent relationship. That’s not to say there’s no fun to be had. The Haunts of Youth manages to include a plucky song about sausage middle ways through. (yes you read that right.)

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Lane’s wholesome, country girl vocals combined with Eastman’s Hank Williams-meets-Hamilton Leithauser voice, make Fort Defiance one of the most interesting combos in modern folk music. It really shouldn’t work, but it’s perfect for it. Once again utilizing something broken to bring out the beautiful.

As part of the Footprint SeriesHaunts of Youth is available on vinyl for the very first time through Soul Step Records. This particular series puts the focus on Appalachian music, a style not often represented on the indie scene and rarely ever pressed on vinyl.

From start to finish The Haunts of Youth is an emotional journey of love, loss, and redemption told in such a way only a real-life couple could deliver. Fort Defiance will win you over the second the needle drops on the first track and by the time it’s over, you’ll want to join them on their pilgrimage no matter what it takes them.

Purchase The Haunts of Youth on limited edition vinyl exclusively from Soul Step Records.

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Aaron The Audiophile

Son, brother, uncle, musician. I enjoy music of all genres, shapes and sizes, preferably the good kind.

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