Red Collar's Welcome Home | Record Review | Indy Week
Pin It
Red Collar's situation has changed drastically in the last several years. The impulse to bet on their success has not. (Tiny Engines)

Red Collar's Welcome Home 

05.16musreviews_redcollar.jpg

When Red Collar released its full-length debut, 2009's Pilgrim, the Durham favorites seemed like a safe bet for an emerging national profile. That album's title track—a story of an unbeatable racehorse longing for more than running in circles—seemed to be an apt parable as the band's members left jobs to hit the road hard. They wanted the world to hear.

But as Red Collar seemed to be fulfilling some wagers on their success, a string of accidents and incidents stalled the band: Tours became less frequent. Word on new material was slim. The band didn't break up, but few would've blamed them if they had amid injuries, growing families and the increasing demands of day jobs. But frontman Jason Kutchma kept the flame burning. He started touring solo, playing his band's songs alone to keep them in front of out-of-town audiences—kind of a consolation prize, really, that led to the stronger Welcome Home.

Red Collar always had sturdy songwriting at its core, but any weaknesses could be easily covered by the band's bombastic presentation. Welcome Home needs no such crutch. Though some of the album's songs made their live debuts as early as 2010, Kutchma's singer-songwriter stint seems to have swayed the full band's material toward concision. Fewer gang-vocal choruses give the impression that this is more of a songwriter's album, whereas Pilgrim was a more egalitarian effort. Without losing any sharp twin-guitar melodies or dampening a powerful rhythm section, Welcome Home is the byproduct of leaner and more focused songwriting.

The sound is also more dynamic here, with Red Collar trading in the generalized rock churn for more development and nuance. "This House" begins as the album's most spare track but slowly builds into the type of larger-than-life swell that Red Collar has used to fill rooms since 2006. As an exercise in restrained tension and overwhelming release, it's a much more confident and effective arrangement than something like Pilgrim's "Tonight." With the band firing on all cylinders, live staples "Orphanage," "American Me" and "Welcome Home" lose no impact, even as the studio adds a welcome dose of sonic clarity.

Red Collar's situation has changed drastically in the last several years. The impulse to bet on their success has not.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review

More by Bryan C. Reed

Latest videos from the INDY

Twitter Activity

Comments

I am baffled as are the other commenters here. When I heard Rhiannon for the first time three weeks ago …

by Mark Ragan on Record review: Rhiannon Giddens' Tomorrow is my turn (Record Review)

I had no idea who Giddens was until I picked this album up on Xbox Music. I can't stop listening …

by retnep on Record review: Rhiannon Giddens' Tomorrow is my turn (Record Review)

© 2015 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation