If I told you that one of the season's best indie albums had a cover of a Del Shannon gem on it, and that said cover was a track of aching depth, you might laugh at me. But, look, that's the truth and, yeah, this new Holy Sons album, In The Garden is a fantastic record outside of that cover. Out on Friday on Partisan Records, In The Garden sounds like a lost masterpiece from the Sixties, the sort of long-player that would have been counted as a big artistic statement back then. Still, regardless of all that, Emil Amos' new work is most definitely worth your time here in the 21st Century.
The lush and expansive "Robbed and Gutted" rolls in like Grant Lee Buffalo remaking a lost Beach Boys single, while the ominous "Original Sin" marries a Nick Cave-like sense of mood with melodies straight out of old Gene Pitney sides. Exquisite and unlike anything else being made these days, the cuts here on In The Garden have a sort of timeless power that is unshakable. On "Denmark" and "Double Negative", Amos filters the sort of indie made by Iron and Wine and Bon Iver with the songwriting legacy of the early pre-Beatles Sixties. The superb "Too Late" offers up what could best be described as a mix of post-Pet Sounds Brian Wilson compositions mixed with the sort of delivery and arrangement favored by Scott Walker on his best albums. "It's My Feeling" is a revelation, the kind of track that just stuns a listener. Equal parts Jeff Buckley and Del Shannon, this take on the Shannon standard is moving and lyrical and clearly the highlight of this fine album. In The Garden closes on the title cut which recalls Cave's work again, specifically selections from The Boatman's Call (1997) album, as much as it does stuff like early Gilmour-era Pink Floyd, oddly, thanks to the fantastic guitar-work on this one.
Holy Sons have released something special here. In a world of ordinary indie, this is extraordinary music, full of big emotions, big hooks, and ornate arrangements. Poised somewhere between the chamber pop of an early generation and the sort of tunes crooners crooned a few decades before that, the cuts on this album are precisely the kind of music I wish more artists made these days. Adventurous and bold while remaining melodic and intimate, In The Garden is one of this season's best releases.
[Photo: Eliza Sohn]