Review: Twin Forks – Twin Forks

twin_forks

With the slew of folk rock acts that have seemingly burst from the woodwork directly into the mainstream in recent years, it’s fair to assume that there would be certain amount of bands pandering to the newfound demographic. How then, would one go about determining what’s genuine? Perhaps it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

An established songwriter jumping on the folk rock bandwagon may appear odd to some, but for many of us that have grown up with Chris Carrabba, Twin Forks makes sense.

The Americana/folk rock band was formed in 2011 by Carrabba, who has become a living emo legend due to his time in Further Seems Forever and Dashboard Confessional. If the shift to Twin Forks seems stark and curious, one listen to the band’s debut self-titled LP should bring a bit of clarity.

Previously, Carrabba had made a career out of heart-on-his-sleeve, emotion-filled cuts that dug deep at the sting of lost love. The early Dashboard albums felt so in the moment, mostly because so many of us were experiencing them in the midst of similar pain.

The appearance of Twin Forks is about much more than a fresh stylistic change, it’s about growing up. Now in his late 30s, Carrabba seems to be taking this opportunity to show his growth – not only as a musician, but as a person.

Twin Forks is about love, viewed through the eyes of a wiser, yet still learning adult. Opener “Can’t Be Broken” exhibits not only the fresh upbeat folk sound of the band, but brings Carrabba’s storytelling abilities to the forefront.

Throughout the course of the album, he’ll reflect on past love and the excitement of new love with a patient eye. There’s no rush and the album flows smoothly in both lyric and tone. The tracks themselves provide the appropriate soundtrack to each story, shifting from toe tapping twang to stripped down strumming with relative ease.

Truth be told, there’s some familiarity to be found here as well. Songs like “Cross My Mind” and “Danger” wouldn’t feel too out of place on Dashboard’s 2009 outing Alter the Ending. Meanwhile, “Plans” features one of the more emotional melodies that Carrabba has written in years and “Back to You” finds his recognizable strained vocals fitting right in to their new background.

Backup vocals, courtesy of Suzie Zeldin (The Narrative), are a welcome addition to the mix, providing a wonderful harmony on tracks like “Kiss Me Darling”. Likewise, her mandolin pushes several of the songs over the top by capturing jubilant and thoughtful moments.

If there’s any gripe to be found, it’s that Twin Forks sometimes seems to be constricted by its chosen genre. “Scraping Up the Pieces” feels a bit forced and formulaic while “Come On” uses its upbeat tempo to guise a rather boring track. However, where these tracks lack in depth they certainly make up for in charm.

At first glance, Twin Forks appears as an awkward flight from known territory for Carrabba, but it’s clear that he knows what he’s doing. Some detractors have pointed out a lack of his once-appealing painful songwriting in his more recent work. This is a good thing.

Those old Dashboard songs will always serve to remind us of our youth, but with age comes experience and perspective. Twin Forks offers these qualities in abundance and meshes them with a sound that feels mature and honest to the subjects at hand. In doing so, Carrabba has shown us that there’s more than one way to wear your heart on your sleeve.

4/5

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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