(02.2008, Western Vinyl)
Verdict = Solid Plaintive Instrumentals
Balmorhea’s River Arms is undeniably beautiful. Made up of cinematic, neo classical compositions embedded with classical, post rock and Americana influences; Rivers Arms is filled to the brim with emotional musical motifs that seem bent on tugging at your heart strings. There are two challenges to composing this type of music. First, the album is competing in a market that is already saturated with numerous artists with ambitions to accomplish the exact same thing. Second, amongst the throng of instrumental piano/violin/acoustic guitar/etcetera crowd it can be difficult to create music that is truly emotive without coming off as, simply, emo. The cure to both problems requires taking risks in writing and playing that few attempt and even fewer are able to pull off. On Rivers Arms, Balmorhea stops short of even attempting anything unique and in doing so has relegated a very beautiful album to becoming background music. The album, while very pretty, is not head turning nor memorable and while it may be good music for breaking up with your girlfriend, you probably will forget that you even own it and miss the chance all together. I respect the group’s efforts here, but feel that Balmorhea will have to bring something much more interesting to the table before they can be mentioned notably among independent chamber/classical legends such as Rachels or Max Richter.
Balmorhea on Myspace