Ethos by Terry Blade

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The latest album from Terry Blade is entitled “Ethos: Son of A Sharecropper”, and it is a nostalgic beast of an Americana/Folk record. The album spans 10 songs with spectacular riffage and heartwarming lyrics, so please allow me to break down what each of these 10 tracks has in store for fans and listeners.

1- Come Home

The opening track showcases the amazing elements that the record is filled with, from the warm tone of vocals to the eargasmic harmonica, everything is just in its right place. The track’s simple and mellow chord progression makes the moments with grittier vocals have more emotional impact and shine as being both musically and lyrically heavy in between the relatively somber music behind them.

2- Won’t Be Around 

This track has a stomp-clap pattern in its percussion and a more cowboy showdown kind of melody but the cherry on top are the vocals for sure. The vocals here are part RnB Soul and part musical theater performer with attitude. There’s nothing as refreshing as a singer who has a strong and resonating chest register. While most vocalists nowadays rely on doing vocal acrobatics and crazy high notes with head voice and falsetto, Terry will blow your mind away with his chest mid-belts that sound forward and full and seamlessly match with his resentful demeanor in this track’s lyrics. This is one of those tracks that becomes an instant favorite once you hear it.

3- Rigor Mortis

Fast-paced fingerstyle guitar, soft percussion, and beautifully-layered vocals. Those are the ingredients of the recipe for a masterpiece. This track was just so sweet that it felt like it ended way before it should have. The guitars had that effortless flow in their progression and sweet tone, and if it were up to me, I’d make a second part of this song on a future record with some similar melodies or lyrics to connect both tracks. 

4- Rainbow Child

This one’s a much slower and longer (ballad-type) track. The strumming pattern is a great stage for all the surrounding harmonies here, be it the backing female vocals or the occasional harmonica. As for the lyrics and the emotional delivery of Terry, it sounds like a very personal story full of self-reflection and a message to his younger self. To top it all off, there is an extended guitar solo that will give you goosebumps before one last chorus is sung in a heartful and tear-shedding demeanor. 

5- Talk About It

More beautiful chord progressions, but the vocals are more like a storytelling movie soundtrack here or a children’s lullaby perhaps. It really felt like Terry is welcoming the listener to “talk about it” with open arms and frankly speaking, before listening to this song I couldn’t think that you could presume a person is kind only by listening to their singing voice, but this is definitely the idea you will get once you hear Terry’s vocals here.

6- Fiddle & Banjo

This one is a short break from the emotional intensity of the record and it has a conversation about some fiddle and banjo players with a few melodies in its background.

7- Wasn’t Mine

Once again Terry tackles a lyrical theme that’s deceptively simple: accepting something that isn’t destined for you. There is no better way to convince yourself with that notion though than to listen to Terry’s impeccable vocals accompanied by the amazing strings. The instrumental section in the middle here will take you straight to the good old days when country music was the only kind of music around. 

 

8- Grandma’s Kitchen

This track is the most anthemic and sing-along chanty track here. And it has an actual mix of the fiddle and banjo that track 6 was speaking of. I really love it when a track can be as descriptive and thought-provoking as this one. I could really imagine the scenery of women cooking and telling their children off as they playfully disturb them, there is just something about that fiddle melody that makes it feel like it came straight out of an old Americana movie.

9- Jimmy James

Another emotional ballad that tells a story. I loved the phrase “his body was frail, but his mind was built to last” more than anything. This track has elements that are simultaneously modern and nostalgic, as you can barely hear any percussion up to the gut-wrenching emotional guitar solo but you can hear some soft percussion in the last chorus and outro after it. This song is beautiful for sure but in a very tragic way.

 

10- In My House

More bluesy/soulful singing here aided by a melodic clean guitar and a grand piano. Although we are on the final track, Terry doesn’t let go of one bit of his attitude, vibrato, and enunciation that make his singing unique and unpredictable. In the last 30 seconds of the song, all the instruments stop playing, except for Terry’s singing and the ensemble of backing singers/layered vocals that he has. It was a very ominous yet well-timed moment, but it felt like he was trying to emphasize those lyrics then the whole album closes abruptly right there. To say it ended on a high note would be an understatement.

In conclusion, this album blurs the lines between being genre-defying and genre-defining. It is in no way a play-it-safe record or one that takes everything back to basics, but it brings a great number of beloved country staples that will appeal to purists and lovers of the genre. I don’t really think any of the album’s 10 tracks would feel out of place if you put them in a country-only playlist, but what’s revolutionary about this album is that those who are not too fond of country and Americana will find groundbreaking vocals and instrumentation that they can enjoy right here.

 

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