By Brian Tucker
Last Friday night folk rock and Americana band The Midatlantic played a release show with Stray Local that packed Satellite Bar & Lounge. Front to back people were everywhere, making for a lively crowd. Before going inside a guy walked past saying, “hope you’re not in a hurry to get a beer.” The guy was right; it was loud and happy, a large crowd waiting for music to start and a bar swarmed with people in winter coats.
Outside, some stood in the cold not far from the venue’s large side doors. My friends and I did, standing on a bench with a view into where the band was surrounded by people, no room to move. The Midatlantic were backed into a corner in a way that I can’t recall a crowd before at Satellite, maybe that Gray Young show a few years back, where the band also had little room to move and play.
Lead singer and mandolin payer Jason Andre stood face to face with the crowd, separated only by a microphone and a box of CD’s below him for five bucks each. Wearing a bowtie, he occasionally careened his head out the doorway to address people outside. Bathed in soft fluorescent light bouncing off wooden walls they launched with the first song off their new EP, “Nothing’s Wrong,” a fun, shoot-from-the-hip number.
Bursting with mandolin guitar and free flowing lyrics, the song is a grand beginning to the EP. Rollicking and roaring, the song see-saws between brief lyrics and a lovely, drawn out chorus awash in foot stomping energy. It’s this song that sort of defines the band’s sound – reflective, rural, energetic, heartfelt, warm. Andre sings about life’s constant movement, “There goes happiness, here comes loneliness, both making the turnaround.”
Bleeding into the next tune without a break, “Nothing’s Wrong” becomes “Breath Deep & Sigh,” a punchy number with soft moments that make the larger ones stronger. By song’s end Andre raised his fist in the air, seemingly a mix of happiness and release.
As an EP “The Midatlantic” is for folk music fans of bands like Mumford & Sons will embrace. Fans of Andre will too. The music is in part an expansion of what he’s known for as a local solo musician and as a new sound born of five friends/musicians. The songs are meaningful, reflective of life experiences lived with emotional and physical passion.
“Run Love Run” is a about people taking chances, about the joy of a couple breaking free of the norm, from safe choices in life to do something adventurous. Its sound recalls material on Led Zeppelin III, again, emanating from the striking personality of the mandolin and the soft, guttural singing.
“Constant” and “Sing ‘Round the Storm” round out the album, the former a plaintive, gentle song and the latter a mini-epic born of acoustic harmonies and a theme about humanity facing something large on the horizon. Andre sings, “Sway to the change in the wind, Dig your toes in the ground, As together we sing around the storm.”
The guitar playing bends with an echoing quality and overall the song rocks back and forth. The music constantly feels like its moving, even on slower numbers. “Sing ‘Round the Storm” is a great closer to the EP, smartly leaving the ear wanting a few more songs.
The Midatlantic performs again locally February 19th at Orton’s in downtown Wilmington with Travelling Broke and Out of Gas.