Debut albums normally are fresh and exciting affairs, packed with delightful energy that often surprises with each new cut.
While there is a fresh feel about Americana trio The Battlefield, the Los Angeles-based band's debut largely lacks spark and ingenuity. Unfortunate, because the band's name infers a challenge to listeners that they're about to charge into a record of take-no-prisoners music. Rather than galloping across the landscape slinging a crisp blend of West Coast folk and country, Jenny Weaver (ukulele, percussion and vocals), James Addison (guitars, drums and vocals) and Matt Ducey (guitars, banjo, piano and vocals) instead struggle to muster much excitement as they plod through 11 relatively dull cuts.
Yes, songs like "Nevernight" tackle social issues like global warming and "Brother Benjamin," which tells of the homosexual son of a preacher attempting to find his faith and sexuality, offers some fight. But "Don't You Turn it On" is a half-hearted take on ragtime-y 1960s Mamas & Papas Summer of Love pop rock. Or merely just picking out a mellow vibe, like three friends jamming late on a weekday night. Yet The Battlefield misses the action on both counts.
Credit the songwriting for its imagination, but the harmonies often miss the mark, and there's little spark, creativity or immediacy to the musicianship. Perhaps because the album's origin was crowdfunded, it's sinks into risk-averse Americana (hey, a new genre) - almost like the artists tried not to displease any of their backers.