You may have caught three-piece Girth playing at the Firefly Coffeehouse (or one of many other fine WhatzUp sponsors), showcasing their unique brand of acoustic, retro, world pop music. If you are a pale recluse like the author, afraid of the bright light in the sky that burns the skin and blinds the eyes, Girth wants to count you among their fan base. Organic is their first release, an E.P. of four songs that effectively captures their unique live sound while adding a few extra flourishes to flesh out the listening experience. The basic tracks were recorded in a live ensemble setting at 20to20 Soundesign with vocals and extra instrumentation tracked later, giving the album both the energy of a live performance and the nice studio touches that make for repeat listens.
The opening track, "Clowns" is so dead-on in its late 60's feel of flowers and love that I find myself looking for Mama Cass to rummage through my fridge. The background vocals of this song are actually quite reminiscent of the Mamas and the Papas although lyrically it is a cynical indictment against the "clowns at the controls." Usquebaugh bassist Jim Cline adds a nice bass figure that pops out at opportune moments. I have one thing to say to Todd Fletcher for writing this song: "DAMN YOU FOR MAKING THIS MELODY STICK IN MY HEAD!" Okay, I'm done now. "World Today" is a haunting, cyclical song that mixes acoustic Zeppelin guitar, really cool background vocals, unorthodox vocal harmonies, a touch of world music, and a hypnotic refrain of "I just wasn't made for this world today" into yet another memorable song. Few bands know how to write an instrumental piece that keeps the listener's attention but Girth is one of the few. "Windmills" is a compelling journey through the Celtic countryside with Fletcher on harmonica and melodica, Parker Johnson playing some wonderful guitar parts, producer/engineer Bob Phillips adding tenor banjo, and Jim Cline donating his pennywhistle talents (cloaked in ethereal reverb). Nearly five minutes in length, there is enough variety and development that you'll wonder where the time went. The final track, "Technology", allows percussionist Randy Burger to strut his stuff through the use of a huge array of percussion items. Here slower sections of bowed acoustic bass and various percussion items are juxtaposed with a more driving guitar-oriented section.
Girth took the wise route of quality over quantity. While only seventeen minutes long, it's seventeen quality minutes you can listen to over and over. This album can be purchased for a nominal fee by calling 260-710-0971.
This review first appeared in WhatzUp, July 2002.