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by Ryan Snyder

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THE NEW FAMILIARSBetween the Moon and the Morning Light

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Say The New Familiars were the last band you heard before falling into a deep slumber sometime in 2007. You wake up in 2011 with the rootsy, slightly jammy sounds of their country rock debut The Storm still swimming in the sea of your mind, and their latest one Between the Moon and the Morning Light might sound, well, unfamiliar. The Charlotte quartet has come a long way since they were sowing the seeds of bluegrass and folk in their infancy, but the changes have happened oh so slowly. The departure of banjoist and founder Eric-Scott Guthrie a few years ago left a lot of creative space to fill within the band and it’s not until here that it’s been fully realized on record. Between the Moon and the Morning Light has been a few years in the making, so long-time fans will surely recognize the boogie “Icarus” et al. It’s been toyed with and tweaked over countless gigs, but here the a brassy flourish complimenting the mandolin and electric guitar has a comforting sense of finality. Likewise with “Salt Shaker,” the empty space of the recorded version makes for a breathtaking accent to the song’s theme of understanding and forgiveness. Others remain faithful, however, as regular show closer “925” retains its Beatles-y whimsicality. They aren’t shy about referencing their twangy origins in a riveting instrumental bridge, but electric guitar and production aesthetic plays a greater role here than in anything they’ve done. “It’s OK” begins as a gently picked ballad before Josh Daniel’s stormy electric sweeps through the track, and layers of anthemic vocals engulf “All In All.” It’s the first studio album where the band has really captured the kind of energy that they bring to the stage, so it’s no coincidence that it’s also their best one yet.

78/100

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