Red Sky July come with impressive credentials. The trio of Shelly Poole (Alisha's Attic), Charity Hair (The Alice Band) and Ally McErlaine (Texas) have all achieved considerable success in music, so what does the trios self titled debut album bring to the table. The original concept for the album came from McErlaine and Poole, who are husband and wife, before bringing in their long time friend Hair. It is amazing that this album ever got made at all as McErlaine suffered a life threatening brain aneurysm which left him in a serious condition for over a year.
This is an atmospheric record with an expansive Americana sound where Poole and Hair share vocal duties interwoven over McErlaine's reflective melodies. The subtle introduction to the album comes in the form of the short instrumental Hynek before giving way to beguiling Morning Song which is layered with muffled slide guitar and bright acoustic finger picking. Slide guitar is a recurring feature of this record but not in a 'in your face' kind of way. The dual vocal approach from the girls is sublime throughout and lifts tracks like Already Gone, The Gold Hour and Rivers Wild to exquisite highs that are just wonderful.
This is a self assured and uplifting album that is made all the more engaging given the struggles they had to overcome to finish it. On an album of such beauty, it is hard to pick an individual track that seems to sum up this record but White Feather captures everything that this album is about for me. Mesmerising vocals, touching lyrics, beautiful melodies and a sense of self belief make this an album that has never been far from my cd player since it arrived.
The record closes on the hymn like The Happiest Girl In The Whole USA and proves to be the perfect ending to a wonderful record of hope, inspiration and love. I like this record a lot. I have always believed that music should elicit an emotion from the listener, whether that be joy, sadness or rage, and Red Sky July has certainly touched me more than I was expecting.