Upbeat, harmonious, infectious folksy power pop, are not often words used to describe music coming out of the Seattle scene; the new album by The Local Strangers is about to change that. The duo of Aubrey Zoli and Matt Hart, released a debut EP last year, did some globetrotting, built a full band and enlisted producer Kevin Matley (The Head and the Heart, Bryan John Appleby) to record their full length album Left For Better. While Zoli and Hart are the main songwriters The Local Strangers full band features Justin Howard on drums, Mike DeBenedictis on electric guitar and banjo, Ethan Sobotta on bass, and Daniel Walker on keys, all of whom have contributed heavily to the dramatic mature sound. The strong songs feature the soaring alto of Zoli drawing instant comparisons to Adele and Florence and the Machine. The album kicks off with the spunky “Mr. Blackberry,” that shows off Matley’s production skills as the sonic layers weave together and rise to a stirring crescendo. “Chase the Battle,” has a smooth eighties flair, while “Beneath the Weight,” uses some clever cello and percussion to deliver it’s deep dramatic melancholy. The multi layered vocals and waltzing banjo and piano accompaniment of “Daniel,” turn the timeless feel of this tune into and instant sing along classic. Zoli blows the roof off on the foot stomping “Devil and a Stiff Drink,” alongside some evil slide playing from DeBenedictis.
Left For Better is a surprising and ambitious album that should propel The Local Strangers out of the shadow of Seattle’s dark confines.
Rick J Bowen.