The Constellations - Southern Gothic
Record Label: Virgin Records
Release Date: June 22, 2010
Southern Gothic, the debut album from Atlanta's The Constellations, is a hard album to classify. Originally released independently, the record is set to be introduced to the mainstream now by Virgin Records. Along with a wider release, Virgin would appear to have wrapped the album in a shiny casing, as the production is perfect, with each note sounding like it was placed in the exact right spot behind vocalist Elijah Jones' tales of vices and growing up on the wrong side of the tracks.
Jones has an interesting delivery, alternating between what is almost a rap delivery and more of a funky singing voice. It is clear he is intended to be the driving force behind this record. However, in someways, this is more a negative than anything else. Jones' delivery grows tired fairly quickly, and this causes the record to grow rather repetitive. This is almost a shame, as the multitude of instrumentalists behind him would appear to have quite a bit of skill. The several productions allow for unique sounds, with instruments such as bongos sounding off in the background.
And, thanks to that shiny wrapper of production, every single one of those bongo hits is where it is supposed to be. Its a shame that the record's vocals cannot quite match the quality of the rest of the album. Jones shows prowess when he actually sings, but his more rap-oriented delivery causes each song to not stand out. The guest vocalists offer variety, and show that had there been more variation in Jones' style, the record would have been quite a bit more interesting. In fact, the only track that truly stood out is not the band's at all, but a Tom Waits tribute in "Step Right Up" where Jones seems to exactly copy Wait's style and delivery for the nine minute track, backed by interesting instrumentation. Or maybe I just like bongos.
Either way, Southern Gothic is simply not all it could be. The album's production is top notch, and the several musicians in the band show interesting ideas behind a vocalist who can also be proficient, but most of the time is rather disappointing. Perhaps a second record from the Atlanta-based funk/rock/hip-hop group will improve where this one was letdown.