Advertisement

Album Review: Society of Broken Souls — Midnight and the Pale


Society of Broken Souls

Midnight and the Pale
www.societyofbrokensouls.com

Society of Broken Souls w/ Molly Durnin

Dick’s Tap & Shake Room — Sunday, April 8 at 7 p.m.

Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter are an Iowan roots/country duo who tour constantly around the middle of the United States. Their music is based in the folk tradition that wouldn’t seem novel 50 years ago.

Their hundreds of live shows are etched into every moment of their second album, Midnight And The Pale, due out April 13. The performances, both vocal and instrumental, are relaxed and deft. The guitars, fiddle and spare drumming outline the vocals minimally. The piano that anchors “Witness” comes as a shock after the first three sparsely arranged songs. Shapter’s tone is light and almost sly on that track, singing “I don’t need you to sweep up my spectacular mistakes” with a combination of self-deprecation and vulnerability.

The standout track is “Pretty,” which is a tale of madness and toxic patriarchy: “… pretty girls don’t yell, and pretty girls don’t cry.” The irony of the lyric cuts deep, presented as it is with a simple melody in Shapter’s airy, sweet voice. The delicate xylophone in the background cuts like a razor, and the background vocals are pretty and menacing at the same time.

Dennis James, on “A Hundred Miles,” is by contrast earnest and straightforward. “I chased a sorrow down a gravel road on my hands and knees,” he sings. His songwriting is more conventionally country than Shapter’s; you can imagine Tim McGraw getting a radio hit out of this song.

You can also imagine Tim McGraw going over the top and pushing it into bathos. Which illustrates what Society of Broken souls uniquely bring to this music; they give the songs their due and not a bit more. They recorded all the parts of this album themselves, but the overdubbed additions never overpower their core performances as a duo. Midnight And The Pale is restrained and modest, but in the end feels quietly epic. If that’s a paradox, well, who doesn’t love a good paradox?

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 240.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Coralville Public Library Online Summer Reading Programs

For ages 0-99+