Album Review Reviews

Review:: A Wolf In The Doorway | The Ballroom Thieves

Boston has a new best-kept secret, and it’s a three-piece rock band in a folk suit.

While they may just be a trio, The Ballroom Thieves’ sound far outreaches their roster’s size. At its midpoint, “Bullet” grows from a simple dark acoustic number into a racing bluegrass number with Earley and Peters’ vocals bouncing off one another.

“Oars to the Sea” stands out as an early gem, with each member loaning their voice to provide three different vocal styles. Earley rumbles in with a low croon, while Mauch and Peters lend support. It also features the first example of Earley’s guitar ability, ripping a brief, sharp solo to accompany Peters’ cello work and Mauch’s percussion.

Excluding backing roles throughout previous tracks, Peters’ vocals make their first lead appearance in “Bury Me Smiling,” a soft and smooth contribution to contrast Earley’s grit. Where “Lantern” and “Bullet” are on the quicker and louder side of the fence, “The Loneliness Waltz” and “Saint Monica” even the tally of ballads vs. faster tracks. The former gives the instrumentals a moment to show their strengths, while the latter is a heartbroken tribute to an admired woman and unreciprocated feelings. Earley tenderly sings “Her voice for a moment of lenience / her words for the coin in your jar / While she pays her dues as another man’s muse / I still can’t tell my head from my heart.” The
shortest song on the album paces itself wisely, stocking up on emotion and
unloading it quickly before risking growing old or dry.

Choosing individual songs to highlight proved a bit difficult. A Wolf in the Doorway plays more as an extended piece than as a collection of songs. Transitions, like “Archers” slipping into “Lanterns” or the way “Oars to the Sea,” “Bury Me Smiling,” and “The Loneliness Waltz” melt from one into the next brings a heavy sense of unity to the tracks.

When The Ballroom Thieves opened the final day of this May’s Boston Calling, they drew a crowd that grew with each passing song. Whether it was their massive sound, their unusual stage setup, or a combination of those along with a handful of other factors, the end result was the same – an eager, interested swarm of fans flocking over.

Being able to have seen them perform before, what stands out about A Wolf in the Doorway is how The Ballroom Thieves’ personality and individuality translate. In concert, it’s obviously much easier to pick out the traits that give them their uniqueness –
the huge energy, the crowd interaction, Devin Mauch’s unconventional percussion setup (which lacks a kick-petal and has Mauch play his floor tom with a brush or stick). With the album, it still shines through. The three members’ multitalented ability showcases their range, and the sporadic uses of other horns, strings, and keys helps take that even further.

Part of me feels this album could have been a perfect autumn record. Its mid-April release, however, doesn’t do it any harm. With the soaring temperatures we’ve had over these last few months, and with the worstof it yet to come, A Wolf in the Doorway
brings the heat.

Release Date: April 21st, 2015
Runtime: 41:41
Rating: 4/5
Check Out: “Bury Me Smiling,” “Oars to the Sea,” “Bullet”

Track listing:
01. “Archers”
02. “Lantern”
03. “Bullet”
04. “Saint Monica”
05. “Wild Woman”
06. “Oars to the Sea”
07. “Bury Me Smiling”
08. “The Loneliness Waltz”
09. “Here I Stand”
10. “Anchors”
11. “Oak”
12. “Wolf”

The Ballroom Thieves are:
Martin Earley – Guitar/Vocals
Devin Mauch – Percussion/Vocals
Calin Peters – Cello/Vocals

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