September Stories – ‘This House Was Never Home’

By Mark Johnson

The combination of atmospheric instrumentals, deeply heartfelt lyrics and spoken word vocals has produced some superb results in the past; most notably Hotel Books, but Being as an Ocean and Casey are among other memorable bands that have used this to excellent effect. September Stories’ debut album ‘This House Was Never Home’ adds even more weight to an impressive genre and mixes in a healthy dose of melody for a fresh and interesting perspective.

This genre relies heavily on emotion and can produce stunning effects when the spoken word narrative mixes with a perfect amount of instrumental ambience. One thing this record doesn’t lack is emotion. Vocalist Andrew Baughman handles the spoken word elements admirably, the narration of ‘Mess’ and ‘Every Word, Everything’ oozing with feeling and passion for the subject matter. This makes the record moreish and infectious as you yearn to dig further into the innermost depths of Baughman’s feelings.

As well as executing the spoken word effectively, Baughman also possesses a fantastic singing voice. An enticing assortment of soaring melodies fill the gaps between narrative passages, keeping the record varied as it progresses, which prevents saturation of the spoken word elements. They’re never overbearing or repetitive thanks to the breaks provided by the traditional singing, allowing them to carry more impact when they do occur.

It would be easy to write the musical elements of the record off as simply background music that gives the vocals a foundation and while this is true in some instances, there’s a lot more to appreciate beneath the surface. The drums provide a continuous heartbeat, keeping the passionate vocals pumping, and the jangling lead lines and uplifting chords provide a level of atmosphere that’s too essential to the overall presentation of the record to be overlooked. The single-guitar interlude ‘Moline-Martin’ emphasises how effective the guitars can be: despite the absence of vocals on this track, the ambient reverb of the guitar produces just as much goosebump-inducing passion as the vocals manage elsewhere.

‘This House Was Never Home’ is full of heartfelt, emotional songs that buzz with vibrancy thanks to the mix of spoken word and uplifting vocal melodies. In a genre that rests heavily on hooking the listener in with a convincing narrative, September Stories certainly hold your attention throughout this fantastic debut record. With storytelling this effective it’s no wonder that you’re left immediately wanting to hear the next chapter.

MARK JOHNSON

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