By Nicholas Howard, Vermont College of Fine Arts
A preview of the Sweet Remains, performing in Flynn Space on Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 and 9 pm.
The Sweet Remains first shared some of their art this week with a screening of their film The Independents, the band’s latest creation featuring original music. It captures the ability of band members Rich Price, Greg Naughton, and Brian Chartrand, songwriters strong in their own right, to come together and create a sound centered on acoustic guitar, artistic harmonies, and emotionally authentic lyrics. All three of these aspects come together live on stage for two shows this Thursday, with one already sold out.
Upon a first listen to the group, you can hear in their music contemporaries like John Mayer and Jason Mraz and trace the group’s earnest musicianship to all-time greats like CSN and the Eagles. These complimentary comparisons aside, I think their sound is uniquely their own. At the very least, what they do with familiar sounds stands alone.
When We Were Young begins mournful, the lyrics expressing lamenting over what is lost to the passage of time. This feeling is echoed in accompaniment of simple guitar strumming. As the song progresses, the tone is brought along to a more hopeful place. Some strings and harmonies carry it there. A listener is able to hear the full possibility of the group and leaves with a positive sentiment.
Moving in Slow Motion uses harmonies and strumming to help catalog the travels of a speaker looking back on his journey. It is inspiring and calming. It name drops New England and would be a great way to start the show, welcoming the audience in for the night. Later when (hopefully) the band plays Love The Way and the lyrics mention going to Virginia, the audience can enjoy art in conversation with itself. Sonically, there are splashes of a contemporary the band does not point to: Jack Johnson. It can be heard in the guitar styling and vocal delivery.
Love Song also brings to mind another modern singer-songwriter: David Gray and his hit Babylon. Even if the audience is more familiar with Gray’s staple, as they hear this original they will want to sing along as the lyrics share the joyful discovery of accidentally writing a love song.
To wind the show down, I recommend the group turn to Music Fills the Space. It has a dancy feeling that invites folks to get off their seats and celebrate the show. This could segue well into Dance With Me. There is some Jason Mraz in it along with touches of The Lumineers. There are moments where Rich, Greg, and Brian’s individual voices come through.
If you want to be one those lucky audience members at the end, standing on your feet and clapping in gratitude, get your tickets.