Flatt Lonsome’s journey to their fourth album Silence in These Walls has been one of discovery. They gradually gained more and more confidence in their songwriting powers as a band while understanding their potential more clearly with each new release. This confidence isn’t restricted to their lyrical inventions alone – it’s easy to hear a growing assurance in their musical arrangements and playing as well that reflects their longtime experience with the form. Flatt Lonesome still have a good ear for outside material that supports their artistic aims and clearly shows its tailored to their musical strengths. The dozen songs featured on Silence in These Walls strike just the right mix between original material and songwriting from other pens while remaining resolutely identifiable as work coming from this spectacularly talented outfit. The fourth release from Flatt Lonesome seems poised to go down as their best yet and certainly rates as one of 2017’s best releases in this vein.
Silence in These Walls opens with the song “All My Life”. It’s a rather bleak kick off to the band’s third album and the unsparing complexity of the lyric and its thorny emotions receives a sensitive, delicate vocal treatment from vocalist Kelsi Harrigill. The song is co-written by band member Paul Harrigill, one of the chief songwriting contributors to the album, and this number alone can prove how much Flatt Lonesome has elevated the quality of the original material since their 2013 debut. They still draw on outside material to great effect with songs like “It’s Just Sad” falling well within their wheelhouse. There is some lovely fiddle work in this song that carries the bulk of the melody and less of an emphasis on harmony vocals than before. Instead, Charli Robertson shoulders the load for getting this song over largely on her shoulders and splendidly acquits herself. “Build Me a Bridge” introduces Buddy Robertson’s molassas yowl for the first time on Silence in These Walls and his vocal tone is ideal for this sort of meditative blues. The band’s avoidance of electric instrumentation isn’t ever a big deal. They get these performances over with the same atmospherics and energy without ever requiring electrification of any meaningful sort.
“Cry Oh Cry” is a product of Paul and Kelsi Harrigill’s songwriting and succeeds wonderfully. The blues touches spilling over so many songs on Silence in These Walls continue on this song and it fits well on a track with such a pensive emotional gait. The lyrics are definitely mired in heart break, but there’s understated anger darkening this song that will capture listener’s attention. Penned solely by Kelsi Harrigill, “Draw Me Near” has a slowly evolving melody and spartan instrumentation that’s perfect for this song about a yearning for transcendence. There’s nothing preachy about this; it’s a purely spiritual and inspirational approach. They make another astute choice for outside material opting for “Where Do You Go”, popularized by Glen Campbell on his 1970 album Try a Little Tenderness and it’s a deeply affecting performance. The final high point on Silence in These Walls comes with the delicately hopeful “Falling” and switching up the mood like this is a breath of fresh air for listeners that illustrate the variety of experiences this band is increasingly bringing to bear in their music. Flatt Lonesome’s layered instrumentation and increasing emphasis on original songwriting has scored huge with their third album.