You have to wonder what “Old Eden” looks like when you hear the Salt & Samovar tune’s floppy Farfisa organ (à la the B-52s) as gospel-revival claps and tambourines raise the tent. This Eden must resemble America—the woods at least, or at least the woods of all those “manifest destiny” myths. The band itself lives in Brooklyn, however, albeit a bucolic Brooklyn, if only in their minds.
Old Joy is best absorbed on sun- baked patches of grass, kicking up puffs of dust that’d thoroughly coat the band’s jaunty vests and heirloom suits. Built around David Moltz and Kelli Scarr (formerly of Boston’s electronic-groove outfit Moonraker), S&S very much yank their tunes from the topsoil of Walt Whitman’s dreams, with Moltz’s earthy, elegiac vocals bolstered by his bandmates’ three-part harmony. A caravan of American roots music, the record’s reverence echoes joyfully in the trotting rhythm of “Soon to Be Dust” or the sing-along strumming of “What Can You Expect to Come?” But edged by Moltz’s fierce guitar, foreboding sentiments lurk, mixing soothing traditional sounds with lyrics of contemporary angst, reminding listeners that “together we will break.” Every song here is a testament to a collective endeavor that recognizes its history but remains all too aware of what the future can hold in store: “It’s a sorrow to see how it’s entrapp’d me/Sucha beautiful misery.” Yeah, sounds like America.
Salt & Samovar play the Highline Ballroom August 8
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 31, 2007