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Thank God for Balto

May 2, 2013


No, I really mean that. My editor has been sending me some music to review and, even though I’ve been going into every review open-minded, I’ve just not liked some of the bands. I imagined her sending me more music, me demurring and her summarily firing me.

(Ed’s note – Haha! People only get fired here when they say they don’t like The Gaslight Anthem. You’re safe.)

But then the new tracks from Balto, the ambitious project of singer-songwriter Dan Sheron, landed in my inbox and my budding career as a blogger was saved. I swear I’ve never been so happy to hear a banjo in my life!

Monuments, the career-saving EP, is a slow burner, recalling the halcyon days of summer. But here I am at the onset of winter, in bed with the ‘flu, feeling less crappy for it.

Sheron breathed mellow acoustic life into Balto in 2010 and the band’s folk melodies have been garnering respect since. Comparisons to other folk titans – think Fleet Foxes and the like – abound, but Sheron considers their music to lean more towards rock ‘n roll. I don’t buy that. This is pure mandolin-fueled folk.

The six-track EP starts off all “summertime and the livin’ is easy” on the first two tracks, “Smokestacks” and “Gravestones”, but it’s when Sheron and his band (Andrew Sheron on mandolin, Charlie Freundlich on upright bass, and Sam Budish on percussion) turn inward that the album comes alive.

There are tinges of regret on “Airplanes” and hope on the quietly soaring “Doves”. But the song that sticks on your head is the fine title track, with its wistful vocal and drowsy instrumentation.

Yes, today I do think I owe a bit to Balto. Folk has preserved me at A Thousand Guitars (I freakin’ hope!) and it has made me temporarily forget my hacking cough. That’s magical music right there.

Marianne Burger

Marianne Burger

Marianne Burger and Music have been in a relationship for 34 years. It’s been 34 interesting years - sometimes tumultuous, mostly highly rewarding. Marianne long ago decided to overlook Music’s lesser qualities (pop, electronic, death metal) and prefers to focus on its glowing attributes: Punk, folk, alternative, blues, jazz, hard rock - yes even emo. Marianne spends her days writing copy for advertisements, but she’s always dreaming of Music. It’s a love affair that will stand the test of time.

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  • Albird

    Dude!!! good tunes, love it!