We’ve most likely written Balto at this point more than any other band. Because of…reasons. Because of love. Because this band might as well be Folk Hive’s mascot…
October’s Road, the band’s prior release, was a certainly a stellar pack of songs, if evidenced by nothing else than our massive love for it, but Monuments is a study in musical growth and near folk perfection. Singer-songwriter Dan Sheron’s voice was perfectly suited to those older songs of longing and cold but on this album he pulls off a new show of songwriting maturity with stunning accuracy. These songs take on a life of their own in a way they never could have if they were recorded solo and it’s quite clear this album is a huge step for this band. And it is one that should pay off if there is any good left in this world.
To be honest, I thought I knew the sound that defined Balto inside and out and it was great enough that I was in love with it at first listen. This new EP is a departure for Sheron and one that could have failed horribly if not executed perfectly — we see it all the time in the indie music world. But executed perfectly this EP is and I dare say that it will soon replace October’s Road as Folk Hive’s favorite Balto album.
It bears mentioning that the ragtag band supporting Sheron on this release is quickly reaching epic Bon Iver proportions. Justin Vernon has maintained tight ties with his friends in Megafaun and to a certain extent, Field Report, through his music and Sheron does the same here. Folk darling Philippe Bronchtein, of Hip Haptchet fame, covers piano and another Folk Hive favorite, John Glouchevitch of Jeannot covers banjo. We’d like to add that the latter does so immensely stunningly, by the way. Also involved: Sam Budish (a man we’ve met and can say with certainty, holds his liquor far better than we do), Charlie Freundlich, and Andrew Sheron of Everyman of Parts (who’s mandolin work here stands out). If that’s not a roster to peak your interest, well then, you’re just an asshole who hates good things.
The sum of the parts here is a collection of songs that has transcended what Balto was. This is a new chapter for Sheron and his band, whoever may be staffing it, and this sound is a page we will always eagerly turn.