Guest review by Dylan Michael Bentley
The brainchild of two gifted songwriters, this Cincinnatian 4-piece Americana outfit’s debut full-length doesn’t break new ground, but refreshingly cultivates and effectively draws from well-worn genre roots.
Ian Mathieu and David Faul split writing and singing duties in half across this 12-song offering. The partnership produces a potent, beautiful, musically diverse, emotionally expansive album that doesn’t skimp on feeling or finesse. The pairing is the haunted heart of Terminal Union.
Mathieu is a plainspoken expert at taking lines and gnawing them to the bone. His writing is casual, his vocal delivery confessional (“Tried to make a killin’, only made a mess/It ain’t the city, it’s me, I guess/Now I’m back where I started, I ain’t even wonderin’ why” he reckons on one song). Faul is more pensive, his writing inquisitively roaming around, second-guessing and gathering itself along the way. How these two intersect and bounce off each other is the hallmark of the band.
Musically, the album is designed around Mathieu’s simple guitar-chord progressions. Multi-instrumentalist Faul plays guitar, harmonica, piano and banjo. The low-end is filled by Lynette Mathieu’s precise upright bass lines and Mark Becknell’s complimentary, punctual drumming. Choice cuts feature additional musicians adding thoughtful embellishments.
Quite a few acts akin to TU have been sprouting up the last few years in the resurgent Americana/Folk scene, acts that highlight the importance of craftsmanship to the spoken word. The arrangement that props TU above the majority of these acts is while adhering to this principle, they don’t sacrifice the integrity of camaraderie and melody along the way. And that’s a good arrangement to make.
Key Tracks: “It Ain’t the City” “One of the Ones”