Boston trio, The Ballroom Thieves, releases their sophomore effort, Deadeye. This harmony-rich album was written and recorded in the isolation of a van during the course of two years while making name for themselves as folk musicians. The trio consists of guitarist Martin Earley, cellists Calin Peters, and drummer Devin Mauch. Deadeye focuses on the many tribulations of an inexperienced, upcoming band, and the stories of constant touring.
The Ballroom Thieves are in the same vein as the Brooklyn folk trio The Lone Bellow in terms of vocal harmonization and southern instrumental influences. Deadeye opens up with “Peregrine” which gives a classic taste of folk tongue. With a nod to the album’s artwork, a sailboat is heard being anchored in shallow waters. Smoothly, Earley strokes his guitar to the calming waters, and the trio whispers their voices in an overcoming grief as Peters thumps her strings.
The listener is transitioned to a more saloon-esque trance during a slow night as Earley tries his southern voice, and screeches for a girl to not leave him in the song “For Mercy.” Quickly, The Ballroom Thieves change vocal positions to cellist Calin Peters as the other two men respectively add a nice background of harmony, tambourines, and soft drums. This music slowly ascends as Peters builds up her crescendo until she soothes out.
After a French style interlude, The Ballroom Thieves is back to their original lineup. Earley affects a crisp, raspiness when he changes octaves with his voice. All three musicians are on par with energy and harmonization in “Anybody Else.”
This hard-hitting trio shows their versatility in the Rock ‘n Roll track, “Pocket of Gold,” where Earley plays a Gibson guitar with massive pickups, Mauch changes skins to a more pounding drum head, and Peters becomes aggressive with her instrument in this game-changer.
As Earley uses his hand on the electric guitar, Peters finds herself back on the microphone with a female chorus behind her as her male counterparts develop a similar tone around Peters’ summertime voice in this nice transitive track, “Trouble.”
The Ballroom Thieves wonderfully passes the vocal duties between Earley and Peters throughout Deadeye, which gives this effort a palatable tongue without it getting dry. The Boston trio gives a lonesome, acoustic track to Earley in a song that sounds similar to one of John Denver in “Bees.”
Peters tries her southern accent in the fast pace Oklahoma-folk-influenced “Blood Run Road.” Peters takes this filler track by storm with her powerhouse fiddle and grungy throat. “Noble Riot” follows the same speed of “Blood Run Road,” but uses a 70’s pop vocal structure in a great harmonization work as Earley plays with his acoustic guitar– along with that familiar Gibson guitar in the background– Mauch uses high-end tom hat cymbals, and Peters claps along as this Boston band develops one of the more catchier songs on this album.
“Bartering” slows down with Martin Earley and Calin Peters singing together plaintively in a old love song. “Storms” speeds up in another traditional folk hymn as this trio takes on a mixture of spoken word and singing. “Storms” features a solid bridge as The Ballroom Thieves beats and belts louder in this sailor tune.
The nautical theme continues with the mellow track, “Sea Legs.” Earley plucks at a Bohemian style guitar tone, Peters bows a slow rhythm that is reminiscent of naval folk tale lullabies, and Mauch takes a shot at singing in what is to be the near conclusion of this album.
Deadeye closes with the song, “Meridian,” a disappointing track that features similar time signature changes and guitar notes as heard previously on this album. Calin Peters, however, does a fantastic job of uplifting this song with her cello as the album finishes with the sailboat heard at the beginning of Deadeye.
The Ballroom Thieves definitely made a decent album that will garner new fans of the folk community. Although the album makes room for innovation, the majority of Deadeye is filled with generic guitar patterns and lyrics. The production quality is smooth and gives off a southern vibe, without losing any roots of bluegrass or folk alike, while maintaining a big sound. Deadeye is a wonderful, musical effort, but seems to lose its interest as it strays away from the nautical theme that is presented at the start of this sophomore release. If you are a fan of Annabelle’s Curse, The Lone Bellow, or Iron & Wine, you will enjoy this release.
– Colt Pierce