Echo Sparks is a band that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Don’t believe me? Have a look at their website! Reared in Orange County, California, the band describes its sound as “mexifolkabillyjazzbluesrock”, so make of that what you will. Its members consist of D.A. Voldez on vocals, guitar and drums, C.C. Kinnick on vocals, guitar, banjo, “gitanjo, autoharp and shakin’ it’., and Cindy Ballreich on “doghouse” bass (occasionally “cathouse” bass) and mandolin. Like I said! The band is [allegedly] signed with Lleaping Llama Records and considers its influences to be crazy people. Enough said!
The band’s independent, full-length album ‘Ghost Town Girl’ was released on January 20th of this year. Given the creative biography of the band and its kooky humour, one would expect the album to reflect it, but this is not the case. Ghost Town Girl is a mixture of mellow and upbeat country tunes, something to clap along to or to just sit and relax by the fire.
Many of the songs combine the vocals of both Voldez and Kinnick, with just a few solos in between. Voldez’s vocals are deep and mellow in comparison to Kinnick’s, and I often found myself wondering if I was listening to Phil Collins because they are very similar. Kinnick, on the other hand, has a more high-pitched voice, but not in the screeching sense. Her voice is often heard above Voldez’s, with Voldez providing the undertones.
In songs such as ‘End of the Line’ and ‘Torch Song’, Kinnick is given a chance to show off her vocals with long solos. Her potential is demonstrated when she is not trying to match the pitch of Voldez. In ‘Torch Song’ especially, her voice reaches its full potential as she raises it up in a song that reminds me a little of Rupert Everett. I can safely say that this is my favourite song off the album.
The album is filled with clap-along tunes, and as such, ‘Shallow Water’ actually does end with applause. The band haven’t made their influences clear, but I could hear a strong hint of the Everly Brothers in ‘Princess of Fresno’, but whether they were considered “crazy people” in their heyday is unknown to me.
Overall the album is that of the country genre: mellow tunes mixed with upbeat, clap-along beats. The combined vocals do work and complement each other, but it would be nice to see a few more solos, especially with Kinnick, whose voice is almost restrained when she is forced to match up with Voldez.