In their sophomore record, Grace & Lies, Family Band juxtapose two fundamentally opposing and paradoxical concepts, and intertwine them to form a being that thrums with life’s most profound questions. The album begins with the unsettlingly with ‘Night Song’, centred around one guitar riff which builds hauntingly and is fitting as an introduction to the album as a whole.
The baleful vocal is that of Kim Krans, who says that she envisioned grace and lies as more than concepts, rather as characters, spirits that would play out in the fields behind the church-conversion home that she shares with husband and fellow band member Johnny Ollsin. Formerly a guitarist in Children and S.T.R.E.E.T.S., Ollsin’s heavy metal roots have an ebbing and flowing influence on the band’s sound, but are particularly prevalent in the song ‘Lace’.
A definite highlight is ‘Moonbeams’, in which percussion is used like a scattering of stars across a clear night sky. Krans’ voice, somewhat reminiscent of Cat Power, contrasts perfectly with the subtle and almost magical instrumental. The husband and wife duo and complimented be bass and lapsteel player Scott Hirsch (Hiss Golden Messenger) and, though often their sound is as stark as a winter sky, this allows for Krans’ lyrical prowess to show through.
In the title track the two characters Krans conceptualised really come to fruition, backing vocals combined with simple guitar riffs and percussion build to produce an anthem of hope from layers of bleak foundation. Neither concept is fighting for dominance, rather they are a balance, two streams of smoke curling up and diffusing into one another. This must come as a result of the band’s meticulous planning; Krans, who also works as a visual artist, is said to have produced a large drawing for each song, from which each sound was deduced and crafted.
Though the album ends in a way similar to the way in which it begins, with a series of unsettling sounds, it does actually have a hopeful message; that though grace and lies can often become tangled and confused, we can build on this for the future. Grace & Lies is wonderfully crafted and exhilarating to listen to. Krans and Ollsin, two limitlessly creative individuals have an intriguing and passionate dynamic, the fruits of which are fully displayed on this record.
Words: Amelia Steele