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EP Review: Before I Come Home - Hunter & The Bear ✭✭✭

 

Review by Anna Ireland


With the release of their second EP, the folk/rock group Hunter & The Bear have returned with their heady mix of blues and banjo which, thrown in with gravely lead vocalsprovides the culmination of a powerful offeringHere, the band seek to evoke the previous Mumford and Sons comparisons this time by way of Band of Horses and a sprinkle of rock and blues influences. 

Before I Come Home is an enjoyable and, dare I say it, emotional listen, that evokes a sense of nostalgia for a place that you didn’t know you’d been. Talk of ‘returning home’ and powerful choral harmonies here appear to surpass the emotional qualities befalling that of Mumford and Sons and such contemporaries, whilst retaining their bluesy/rock feel. 

The first track, Pick Me Up, is the standout; a foot-tapping, swelling number that grows via extensive banjo useHowever, the vocals of lead singer Will allow a sense of depth and clarity within the bands lyrics; ‘I’ve been playing these old strings’ matches the husky quality of his voice, evoking a summer night with a glowing sunset matching the swelling soul of their music. The bridge of the song is haunting with a choral addition, as the passionate plea of the title reaches a guitar ridden, banjo-infused climax.

The image here is of a band older than their years. Evoking a whiff of Led Zeppelin and their folk blues roots, second track Rise includes the lyrics ‘Come out of the worst and into the sun/Return to the place we were young.’ There is something haunting in these vocals, as a young man speaks as an elder. It’s a track that you want to be glorious, but the song fails to match up. There are again strong vocals, but the link with thechorus to the Stairway to Heaven-esque verse is not there. Itappears the product of over-dramatising –stripped back, the song has a powerful core, but the chorus reverts to a large, loud affair that, here, appears too much.

There are surprises on the EP which serve the band well; the listener is not lulled into a sense of security. Montana Men sees the band talking of American roots as their own (the band are all British). These simple images are highlighted by a sweet and swelling chorus to which the backdrop is that of a mellow bluesy guitar. It’s not a refreshing ode to a man’s country, but it’s comforting and jangly and enjoyable.

The final track, On the Run is very much a journey with a defiant message of hope, and much like the others is served with a hefty mix of banjo and impassioned vocals, with a nifty guitar solo colouring this mix. It’s a mix they are well versed at and do well, and provides a euphoric ending.  

Perhaps with a little more fine-tuning, and a little less banjo, the group will find their niche. They are undoubtedly one to watch out for this summer.

3 stars ✭✭✭

Catch Hunter & The Bear at their upcoming dates:

July
Fri 11th - Camden Lock Live, London
Sun 13th - T in The Park
Thurs 17th & Fri 18th - Larmer Tree Festival
Sat 19th - HebCelt, Scotland

August
Sat 2nd - Best Kept Festival @ The Islington, London
Thurs 7th - Muir of Ord, Black Isle
Fri 8th - Belladrum, Scotland
Sun 24th - Shackfest, Hereford
Sat 30th - Summer Isles, Scotland

New single Pick Me Up is out now and available on iTunes with the EP following later in the summer. To find out more about Hunter & The Bear visit: www.hunterandthebear.co.uk 

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