A review of These Broken Hands -- Portland

17 June 2009

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This post is old… It's probably been exported and imported from at least three different blogging platforms over the year. That probably means that there are broken images and links. If the post is technical in nature, any adivce is out of date and irrelevant. Or more likely, it was the wafflings of bored-past me with too much time on his hands. If it is the latter I would probably cringe if I re-read it. But it's here because it's part of my past, not my present.

If you were to put into a blender the musical styles of Damien Rice, Ocean Colour Scene, Sara Groves, with a hint of Newton Faulkner you may begin to sample something that resembles the beautiful sound of These Broken Hands by Portland.  This is the first of three albums that the Birmingham based band will put out while being signed to the record label The Stereo Tree, who have also recently put out the latest album by The Gentlemen; A Candid History Of Faith, Hope, Love.

The album opens with Carry You and Tonight.  Both tracks have been on Portland's MySpace page for quite some time and I have heard them live a couple of times.  Carry You opens with a drum beat, something that you don't get when the band play live, and then the sound of the acoustic guitar, bass guitar and piano come in on top which is then followed by the stunning vocals of Rory Thompson.  The backing vocals perfectly complement the song, emphasising certain words, phrases or lines.  The sound is just comes together beautifully.

Some of the remaining tracks I had heard live, however the majority were new to me.  One of the songs that I had heard before, The Letter (track six), really stood out not just musically but lyrically too.  The lyrics focus on the events of the crucifixion, looking at the pain of the cross, but also the purpose: "Why do you silently take all the pain? When deep in your heart you were bearing my shame."

I love the quietness of this album, it is an album you can put on and just relax to while listening. The production on it is solid, giving a really full, rich, sound. This really is a five star album, the only complaint I have about it is that I want it to keep on going! The tracks that really stand out for me are Tonight, Burning Sky and The Letter. A brilliant album, and a bargain for only £10!

For more information check out Portland on MySpace, Twitter or Reverb Nation

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