To be released mid-January 2015, Philadelphia folk band i am Love’s self-titled offering is a progressive folk rock album using cello, woodwinds, zither, sax, and reverb. (And yes, I had to look up what a zither is.) Joshua Christopher (vocals, guitars, chorded zither), Will Whitmire (bass, banjo), and Kris Jackson (percussion, keyboard, vocals) have put together a collection of songs that seem to span different influences and be the results of very different inspirations, with the resulting sometimes dissonant sounds intriguing the ear. The band’s inspiration will resonate with many. They seek to “make music to inspire people to be their highest selves, to know that they too can create,” a belief that was strengthened during Christopher’s year-long recovery from a tractor trailer accident. “I didn’t listen to any music that year,” he explains, “but I wrote myself back to life with these songs.”
The opening “Pillar of Salt” welcomes listeners straight into the unique genre the band has created, putting together the distinct influences of classical, indie, rock, and grunge. The following “Swiftness” is, well, swift, coming in fast and leaving listeners open for more. The slower, more melodic “Ghost in the Hallway” has a psychedelic, eerie quality to it, while the synth led “Pants on Fire” takes us right back to the 1980s without letting us forget about the year we are actually in. The upbeat and catchy folk imbibed “Stinkbug Serenade” sounds as odd as the title does, and will make many smile. The title of these last two tracks does make one wonder about the sense of humour of the band members.
The tempo continues to rise with the acoustic punk track “Spew” only to come crashing down with the creepy “Can I”, a song that starts with a seemingly innocuous “Can I help you” made quite suspicious because of the melody and tone it is set in. The bluesy “Ace of Cups” probably sounds even better live than it did on the album. While “Valentine’s Day Massacre” sounds like a title for a creepy, disturbing song, i am Love brings us instead a folksy song with definite indie rock elements. The closing “Finest Hour” might not be the strongest song to end the set with, but it does feature one of the stickiest chorus, which just might make it the smartest track to finish the album with.
i am Love is an interesting collection of diverse songs that take listeners to the various corners of the band’s mind. While spanning many genres, the album remains in a way distinctly Americana and could be compared to a collection of short stories. Reminiscent at times of such artists as Sonic Youth and Mumford & Sons, the band melds many musical genres together in an experimental album that reflects their commitment to making music from the heart. The lead single, “Pillar of Salt”, is available on SoundCloud. More information about the band is available on their website.