Fiddle, accordion, pump-organ and mandolin tint these songs, but they're played in a deliberate, methodical way which drains this usually frolicsome instrumentation of its joie de vivre; the sombre undertow of cello on some tracks adds its own dark undercurrents, as does the persistent amplifier buzz audible in the quieter moments. The textures bring to mind The Band, but without their blithe accomplishment: rather, these ramshackle ruminations are precariously perched on the edge of collapse, held together only by the sense of intimacy in their performance.
This one's a bit of a mystery, but an oddly enticing one which should appeal to lovers of the sadcore style of Smog and Palace. Not even their British PR knows anything about this Virginia septet, and despite the folk and country influences at play on this debut album, their name is a bit of a misnomer, A Derby Spiritual being a tentative, decidedly sober exercise in melancholy. If it comes to that, there's nothing about Derby on the record, and I'm damned if I can find anything overtly spiritual about it, either. The songs are secretive, introspective odes, and even the most forthcoming of them are tricked out with such impermeable lines as "Fireballs rise, Germany skies".