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Derek Archambault is arguably best-known from a musical standpoint for his work as vocalist of post-hardcore outfit Defeater. However, well before the band’s inception, Archambault had an affinity for much more mellow tunes, writing and performing country-tinged acoustic folk under the name Alcoa. As the band’s success grew and full-time touring took priority, Archambault was forced to put the solo project on the backburner – until now. Following several demo releases as well as strong fan reaction to acoustic tracks on the last Defeater record, ‘Bone and Marrow‘ is an incredibly impressive debut album for Archambault, strongly demonstrating the songwriter’s versatility.
‘Bone and Marrow‘ kicks off with the immediately catchy ‘Keep Track/Lose Track‘. A vibrant, rich opener that sees Archambault backed up by a full band (including pedal steel guitar and organ), it’s a strong way to introduce the record.
From that point on, the album darts back and forth between full-band tunes thick in instrumentation and stripped down, intimate numbers. The songs manage to feel quite cohesive, maintaining Archambault‘s quite honest, emotional lyricism throughout, while exploring different moods and staying quite varied and interesting. Whether it be the the upbeat warmth of ‘Limbs‘ and full-blown country rock of ‘Lucky Me‘, or the sentimental balladry of ‘Whiskey and Wine‘ and album highlight ‘Cab Rides and Cigarettes‘, Archambault seems quite adept at displaying very personal, melancholic songwriting.
What should be made clear, however, is that none of the songs on ‘Bone and Marrow‘ resemble the acoustic ‘Sleepless Nights‘ portion of the last Defeater album, and at times the influence of artists such as Lucero will be too much for those more inclined to Archambault‘s other work. That said, most of the time ‘Bone and Marrow‘ stays quite catchy and accessible.
With ‘Bone and Marrow’, Derek Archambault wears his heart on his sleeve to deliver a powerfully strong debut. Suspend the knowledge that Archambault also fronts a very loud hardcore band – or indeed, use it as proof of his versatility when it comes to writing music – and ‘Bone and Marrow’ is a rich collection of whiskey-soaked ballads that serve as evidence of the amount of time Archambault has had to work these songs to their best.
1. Keep Track/Lose Track
3. I Don’t Feel Welcome Here or Anywhere
4. Cab Rides & Cigarettes
6. Second Untitled
8. Lucky Me
9. Family Tree
10. Whiskey & Wine
11. Third Untitled