In classic alt-folk and indie-rock style, Fox & Coyote weave intricate stories with alternately haunting and catchy melodies. The songwriting is excellent. But what sets this latest album apart for me is the band’s forward thinking, their ability to keep the listener glued to their seat all throughout the length of the recording. The mix of organic sonics is also very, very good. Fox & Coyote are one of the more interesting band’s to come along in the last few years. Their lyrics and arrangements of complex simplicity and evocative images driven by thrilling musicality never fail to disappoint. “Scattered Shadows on a Double Bed” is the band’s third album, and the level of musical maturity shows. It has all of the normal earmarks of a great album, from the instrumental quality and literate manner of lyric writing, to the emotional vocals. The quintet is made up of Ryan Evans (lead vocals, guitar), Jonathan Harms (lead vocals, banjo, keys), Katherine Canon (cello, vocals), Grant Gordon (upright bass, electric bass), and Kenny Befus (drums).
Right from the opening sprawling track “(Don’t Tell Me) There’s Nothing In My Head”, you can somehow sense the band’s sheer excitement at producing such a panoply of sounds. From here onward the album swings back and forth like a pendulum between the band’s core proficiency (cerebral, tuneful songs) and it’s farther ranging interests.
Best of all is the band’s ability to shift tone and texture on a whim. In an album mostly comprised of diversely dramatic gems, its articulate sprawl anchors the record magnificently, pulling the whole project magnetically together. You can find all of those chameleonic qualities in “Blue Marble”, which changes skin color on numerous occasions during its six minute pus duration.
Resonating strings, jangly acoustic guitars, fiery banjo riffs, swift percussive interludes, embrace a contemporary and full sonic palate, which seamlessly fits into Fox & Coyote’s double-stitched classic songwriting. Again, what is different here is the enthusiasm and the energy behind the project – the band sound engaged and excited.
These elements come shining through on the poignant “White Spider” and “Everything‘s Just Fine”, as well as the up-tempo “May 18”, which presents a tremendous galloping swirl of sound. Fox & Coyote are at their best when they write disarming, thematically ambitious songs while maintaining a thick fatalistic streak. Something which happens often on “Scattered Shadows on a Double Bed”.
Moving ahead, we continue to encounter rich stories full of complex characters, and no shortage of emotion, as Fox & Coyote prove to be daring and adventurous, constantly exploring whatever form they can use to express their musical ideas with. This is particularly true on the stirring “Deal” and “A Million Filaments”, before the band switch to a more straightforward mainstream approach on “Any Light”.
There is something poignant, powerful, and fabled about “Gibeon” which will captivate your senses, while Fox & Coyote’s notion of romanticism and mysticism is fully explored on “Love Is”. Hearing “Bed” stomp, prance, and leap in melodic bliss, is like watching paint balls hitting a wall and spreading into colorfulness. “Scattered Shadows on a Double Bed” sounds like a collection of songs from a band at the peak of their powers having their cake and eating it too.