Album: Radical face, The Family Tree: The Roots

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The Independent Culture

The Roots is the first part of a Family Tree trilogy by Radical Face, aka solo artist Ben Cooper, who recorded the album in his mother's Jacksonville toolshed, using only instruments available to the 19th-century protagonists of his fictional family. It's a gambit reminiscent of The Band's second album and Sufjan Stevens's 50 States project, and Cooper employs the frail Americana vocalese employed by such as Stevens, Jason Lytle and Jonathan Donahue, in relating his grim tales of hardship, desertion and death in childbirth, with occasional glimmering lights provided by the unbreakable fellowship of family. With tack piano, acoustic guitar and banjo borne along by simple beats, and shaded with wheezing accordion, smears of strings and ambient sounds, the authentic echoes of history gust around Cooper's sepia-tint stories.

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