While some bands are taking leaps into making music more electronic, relying on more and more synthetic or computerized enhancements, one band doing nearly the opposite is Forest Ray. The rock band, based in Seattle, Washington, is all about releasing their music on vinyl and adhere to analog recording techniques. The band’s newest track, “Honesty” proves why doing it the old way, with a new sounding twist, is just as impressive in 2020 as it was in 1966.
“Honesty” has a honey-swell guitar tone that gathers the rhythm section in toe. Not far behind the percussion has a tap-tap mode, and persistently stays in that lane for the duration of the song. The drums are not heavy handed, rather, leaving the heavy-handed parts to the song to the guitar, some lush reverb, and some slight harmonica playing. The steel guitar is there, too, adding a bit of a haunting vibe to the tune. This song has this fog to it, a layer of ashy darkness with embers of reds, yellows and oranges. It’s not Iron Butterfly, but one thinks a few drinks later, that “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is just around the corner.
Pause for a moment, and “Honesty” has that smell, that red booth in a corner bar smell (the music video, directed by Brian Glinski, and edited by Conor O’Keefe features a bar that spot-on captures the visual representation of this song). The video, filmed at Seattle’s Wong Kitchen and Bar, has a faded, camera filter that comes across like plumes of cigarette smoke. The plot: a seemingly normal night at the neighborhood bar starts to get a little kooky with a band playing and before long, the film itself is rewinding and changing direction. The bar patrons at first have no interest in the band, but once the night prolongs and the drinks continue to flow, some confusion and misfit-like conduct ensues.
Vocally, the psychedelic sounds of bands like Nazareth, Uriah Heep and Wishbone Ash, can be compared. While a bit falsetto, the vocals can at times be sunken under the music base, the words a bit hard to discern at key times. The rush of the guitar and the tightness in the band really takes over. It’s a good thing. The song sounds and feels sweaty; this is the perfect song to jam to at a music festival. Under the stars, surrounded by nature, the “Honesty” interpretation is that while there can be chaos and disruption, there is hope to find solace in the work that was put in a relationship. I think in the line “maybe in the next life we’ll get it right” there’s a calling to the listener to find a way to be honest with themselves, and in their next journey, don’t beat themselves up as much.
Peter Sumic, Eric Junge, Sebastian Brown Glad, Brennan Moring, Brendan McGovern and Simon Olander make up Forest Ray. Their first record, Musical Witchcraft, was released in October 2016, followed by Laughing (August 2018) and Faded Reflection in 2019. The albums are all available on vinyl.
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