The Other Shore, the new album from indie folk band Murder By Death, is a nostalgic steampunk odyssey from the first plunge of the accordion to the accompaniment by a ragtag yet functional group of hearty musicians. For a band that has been around nearly two decades, they have kept their sound fresh and interesting, and this album is no different. With a gothic look on jaunty folk stylings one might hear at a campfire during the gold rush or pirating the seas, The Other Shore is a gripping tale of, what else, love and loss, as well as the inevitable doom of direct decision-making and the consequences that follow.
From a popularity rise in the late 2000s that saw the likes of bands like Mumford & Sons, Murder By Death has stuck to their guns. Adam Turla’s raspy, soulful voice still tugs at the heartstrings while accompanied by grim cellist Sarah Balliet. Their conversation through music is enchanting and foreboding, a thoughtful relationship that has stuck through the band’s tenure. Each 11 track vignette is a melancholy blow to the head, a landscape of how much and how little we know. Muted destruction builds tension in Turla’s songwriting like a fog upon the sea. “Alas” is the perfect opening song to set sail on a journey with no destination. With each peak and valley, The Other Shore becomes a stronger and more cohesive work of present-tense yesteryear.
The complexity of this album requires intense and focused listening as concepts appear in the shadows and disappear in the light. From time to time, Turla’s lyrics are burdened with unbridled musicianship. The potency of the flowing mandolin in “Travelin’ Far” begs our attention and the same can be said for the percussion and strings in “Bloom”. These distractions act like sleight of hand tricks that are both bewildering and inspiring. Nevertheless, Murder By Death have proven themselves to be more than a sideshow attraction. They have dug into their niche for all the broken down steampunks and vagabonds. Wonder and heartache cling on like barnacles searching for an answer. And we ride along, destined for a journey with no ending, aside from the other shore.