For a folk album, Salvation Rose has definite bite; "Last I heard from God he lost his dick in the war.." sings Alex Forrest VanTuyl on "Southern Mouth". Amid the steel guitar, kick drum, piano, acoustics, and harmonica, Forrest packs an additional punch lyrically and it's refreshing. If you're like me then you've been somewhat bewildered at the face of folk music these days, one which seems to be littered with cookie cutter relational issues, luminous patriotic hand holding, and borderline masturbatory nationalism. Yet behind all the Mumford tapestry and Youtube videos of people speed picking on banjos, considerable folk talent in the form of traditional instrumentation still exists - case in point: An American Forrest.
Salvation Rose's short and sweet journey begins with "August," a setting forth tune that showcases the prominence of Alex's storytelling ability early on amongst a myriad of trumpet, guitar, piano, steel guitar, and drums; a jovial instrumental coalition of upbeat optimism that beautifully contrasts the will they / won't they lyrical content of reconciliation. The Dylanesque story telling is strong with this album and it's easy to see why when reading about the album on Bandcamp: "Written in Marrakech, Sofia, Sarajevo, Madrid, Venice, Albiez-le-Jeune, Paris, Walla Walla, Adna, Kent, Greenwood, Fremont, Ballard, Bainbridge Island, Moscow, and Pullman". Yeah, just a bit impressive. "Hemisphere" is a soothing track of misgivings featuring an excellent acoustic lick and harmonica that stays with you long after the track ends. "Give us time in the same hemisphere, and time less flawed" sings Alex before your swept away by waves of Hammond E-100 Organ provided by Charles Wicklander.
One thing that must not be overlooked in Salvation Rose is it's substratum of musicians and instruments. We're talking about over 25 minutes of enjoyment that manages to fit in guitar, piano, upright bass, drums, pedal steels, handclaps, accordion, violin, harmonica, and who knows what else. Not to mention softening backing vocals provided by Fawn Dasovich, Sean Knox, and Tiffany Harms. With a list that big you would thing the album to be quite noisy and toxic, but it is anything but. Production is top notch and every instrument weaves it's way to the forefront of the music and leaves just as another steps up to the campfire.
As wonderful as Salvation Rose is the fact remains that we're still essentially talking about an EP with 5 tracks. Yet if the worst thing you can say about an artist or band is that there isn't enough of their material available then they're assuredly heading in the right direction. Keep your ear to the ground on this one.