By Hannah Liuzzo
There’s something about the way Peterborough, NH’s Footings have absorbed and purged their small town surroundings that make me think that maybe there’s something I’m missing—maybe there’s something to be said for a simple lifestyle in a mountain-draped town with a river and a bookstore and a chocolate shop. Minimally outfitted with a guitar, close vocal harmonies, strings, and a wispy drummer, Alienation is a sweet reminder, straight from the middle of the woods of New Hampshire, to slow down and observe.
Front man Eric Gagne (also Death To Tyrants/Redwing Blackbird) is a country wanderer whose voice and guitar playing are perfect compliments: melodic and expressive but tastefully underdone. Decorated by meek and tender female backing vocals, Alienation is littered with narratives recalling old memories, adventures, lessons learned, delivered simply and digestibly.
The quartet varies in style from sparse and simple folk feels with just a dusting of backbeat to teetering on the edges of alt rock. The lack of a bass player is intentional and effective, creating space in the middle voices for lush and conversational string arrangements to paint soundscapes and to brighten moving lines. The instrumentation is a flavor of familiarity, comforting and predictable, but is offered from a fresh and contemporary perspective.
Ideal for a day when you’re swallowed by artificiality, Alienation is the dirt, the wildflowers, the wood fire, the night walk on a side road, to ground you and center your state. Human and poetic, it’s a record I’ll return to for its lyrical anecdotes and uncomplicated melodic embracement.