Following the theme of returning back to the nostalgic vision of home we all remember,
the Novel Ideas’ third album “Home” is a heartwarming take on folk rock. Although a stark
departure from its high tempo, rock-infused predecessor, “The Sky is a Field,” “Home” stands on
its own as a unique leg of the Novel Ideas’ music career.
Recorded last year in a Jaffrey, N.H. barn, the album’s country influences are readily apparent.
While traditional mainstay rock instruments are present on the album, the Novel Ideas
supplemented the sound of the album by making subtle use of banjos and trumpets. The usage of
banjos in the song “Back and Forth” really lends a down-to-earth quality to the album. Trumpets
provide a sweet, piercing sound that complements the album’s country-style guitar flourishes.
The vocals on “Home,” led predominantly by band member Daniel Radin, also draw more
from country influences. Coming across as what John Mayer would sound like with a southern
twang, they usually have a tenderness that befits the album. Especially evident in the song, “Not
Enough,” the duet of Radin and female vocalist Sarah Grella present one of the sweetest songs
on the album.
Though the vocals are enjoyable, sometimes the country flourishes are overused in songs.
Particularly, the “scooping” style of singing, where the singer starts slightly below pitch and
slides up to the correct pitch, can become grating to listeners not fond of country music. The
clean mastering of “Home” presents another issue with the album. The mastering makes the
songs sound too perfect and similar when compared to one another. In the song “Saint Marie” in
particular, the mastering and scooping makes for an irritating combination.
Although “Home” is a mixed bag of sorts, it still is a relatively solid album worth a few listens.
For fans of: Counting Crows, Fruit Bats, John Mayer.