Streets Of Leredo started life off as a three piece comprised of siblings Dave, Daniel and Sarahjane Gibson. In 2012 they took the plunge to leave their native New Zealand and move to Brooklyn where they picked up a few more band members to pad out their folk rock outfit.
All the usual influences are present on their debut album Volume I & II, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel. Lyrically they are intelligent and thoughtful, musically their blood harmonies are effective, if a little hidden away under large band sound. The use of horns and percussion helps to lift the music out of the folk tradition and dip it's toe in rock the way that Dylan and Simon did before them. There's nothing strikingly original here if you've followed the genre from it's origins, but for fans of Mumford and Son and Jake Bugg there is something here that will appeal.
The album opener Everything To Everyone is straight out of the folk stable. It's a dreamy, undulating track full of texture. It's like a ship floating away towards the horizon away from the storm - the track never quite builds to it's full potential. Lonsdale Line adds a harmonica and a kicking drum sound to the layers of the bands sound and has a stomping chorus which is bound to go down well at live gigs and is a really strong track. Hey Rose is a wonderfully melodic track with haunting echoing harmonies. It would have been nice to hear more of the accordion which features on the intro of this track. Slow Train is another track that fails to realise it's full potential and is just not dynamic enough musically or lyrically. Laredo does kick things up a bit with another nice hook and replete with their trademark harmonies. A great track for some airplay.
Sarahjane is disappointingly underused as a lead vocalist, featuring on only two tracks Homelessand Dear Leron, the latter is one of the best tracks. When she takes over the vocals the dynamic of the band shifts away from the slightly pedestrian folk sound into something special. Perhaps volume III will give her a better place as lead vocalist.
The band show great potential but they miss opportunities to make themselves more unique and enhance their sound. They just don't make the best of the band and the talent that they have. If they were to add some clearer, more complex three part harmonies, traditional folk instruments to build the music up and then they would stand apart from their modern counterparts head and shoulders. If the album were full of tracks like Laredo, Dear Leron and Need a Little Help, these guys (and gal) would be flying. There's some interesting stuff here, but overall it's just not interesting enough to be counted with their contemporaries.