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Northern Drive

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Album Review

The Young Tradition's 2003 single for "California Morning" was a shining example of what makes indie pop so great: beautiful melodies sweetly sung and tenderly played with bubbling organs, chiming guitars, and majestic horns. The Young Tradition's 2005 album Northern Drive lives up to the lofty promise of the EP and more. It includes the sublime "California Morning" and nine other gentle and lovely songs perfect for melancholy afternoons when you're busy doing nothing. The duo of Swedish instrumentalist Erik Hanspers and American vocalist Brent Kenji recorded the album in much the same way they did the single; the music was made in Sweden by Hanspers and a few friends, the vocals recorded in San Francisco by Kenji. As on the EP, Hanspers again creates lush and captivating tunes for Kenji to croon over. He is especially fond of electric piano and vibes, giving the record a strange '70s jazz feel at times, especially on the emotional ballad "Footprints" and "Pink Opaque." Most of the record has an autumnal, relaxed feel with loads of gently strummed acoustic guitars, quiet organ, and restrained drumming, though a couple of tracks, like the loud and Byrds-y "Now You Know" and the synth pop-inspired "Endlessly" pep things up without breaking the spell. Kenji, formerly of indie pop heroes Fairways, is never anything less than wonderful; his intimate and direct vocal style gives the songs an emotional strength that a weaker singer couldn't hope to deliver. There aren't many better singers in the world of indie pop, and it is a pleasure to hear him with such strong backing. The Young Tradition have crafted a real gem of a record, full of emotion, hooks, and depth. Don't be afraid of the indie pop tag; Northern Drive is about as twee as a broken heart, and that is just about what you deserve if you miss this band and its sparkling gem of an album.


Genre: Folk

Years Active: '00s

The Young Tradition were practitioners of a decidedly old tradition when compared with the folk-rock groups of their period. Their self-titled debut album showed the trio to be dedicated scholars, taking the trouble to unearth the most authoritative and authentic versions of the songs in their repertory. Founded during the early-'60s British folk revival, the Young Tradition started out as an unaccompanied duo of Peter Bellamy, an art student from Norfolk, and Royston Wood, a former teacher, advertising...
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Northern Drive, The Young Tradition
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