By Weadee Mombo
GENRE: Indie folk rock/Jazz/R&B
LABEL: Soul City Music Co-op
RIYL: Andy Shauf, Mumford & Sons, Father John Misty
The Canadian folk rock duo take a sobering look at past friendships, heartache and love to create perfect comfort album for summers of longing.
Somewhere between the effortlessly relaxed summer days and calm cool August nights, we find the unrushed ballads of Windsor-based Canadian folk rock duo The Bishop Boys with their debut album Old Friends, Brief Ends. The Bishop Boys, comprised of long-time friends Austin Di Pietro and Andrew Adoranti, released their debut album on June 3rd, 2022, a fitting time for an album reminiscent of hazy afternoons.
At its core, the album is an incredibly calming one brought together through friendships and love. The well-structured rhythms, warm arrangements and pleasantly casual lyricism take you out of whatever time you’re in and offer a moment of pause. Balancing the simple yet richly detailed compositions is a feat that pays off as the duo ushers in song after song at a seemingly unhurried pace. It is as though they have no place to go but to sit and share the songs with you.
Naturally, “Intro” sets the tender tone and “Halfway There” embraces the listener immediately after with a relaxed guitar that soon swells into a full-band mirage. Inspired by a relationship, “Halfway There” is in essence a journey to not merely realizing the effort one must take in creating a strong partnership, but likewise the journey of meeting the other person – halfway there. As the organ plays out and the simple refrain repeats “and we just keep moving on/Lord I try to right my wrongs” , the chorus morphs into a brief revelation of the running theme in the album. Be it the listener or the duo, the Boys present the modest idea that if ‘we’ continuously press forward despite the pain of the past, we will find solace too.
“Song Without a Name” is as unspecific and precise as you might imagine, volleying back and forth juxtaposing ideas of happiness and pain. There is a strong sense throughout that the album neither desires to be categorized or defined. The genre-less blend of soft rock and brush strokes of jazz within “Song Without a Name” is a prime example of that. Regardless, the crisp crescendo of swelling horns and organs features some of the best arrangements on the album. “Better Someday” continues the choir-like feel, and flirts with wistful optimism that the prayers to be ‘better someday’ will be answered. “Dark Days” is another highlight and notably the hushed pianos are where the lyrics truly shine through. Interestingly, the bittersweet nature of the album begins to be more revealed with the songs “Better Someday” and “Dark Days,” yet neither takes away from the record’s unassuming nature. The hints of emotion in these songs offer brief glimpses into the heart of the record.
Old Friends, Brief Ends is an album written and recorded over the span of six years and needless to say, the stories that bled into the album linger still. The pair’s friendship is the strong central piece upon which themes of love, growing up and moving on, find solid ground. The people and places that inspired the album (such as Detroit, New York, Guelph and of course, Windsor) are ones familiar to any Ontario native and create a unique collective listening experience. The Bishop Boys have a story to tell and the listener is just as much a part of it too. Spending time with the record is as though you are simply spending time with friends engaged in a conversation.
“Mother Mary,” is perhaps the most tangible song on the record and an appropriately delicate closer where the album finds its end and our stories begin. As we strain to listen past the fingerpicking and ambient noise that spills through, we hear a muted piano and beautiful singing off in the distance. It ends off like a quiet afternoon at a friend’s house playing us out with the sound of rain and the fake ending before giving us a strong goodbye. It stumbles along letting itself come into itself just as it fades out. In some ways, that is like life.
On one hand, the album feels very neatly packaged; complete with chord progressions soaring where one might expect and remarkably tidy production, yet that is not a weakness. While the album never quite veers off the open road into the unknown; it is this expectant conventionality that offers the listener a place of comfort and leaves them hopeful for the road ahead.
Album release date: June 3, 2022