Album Review: Terrible Sons – The Raft Is Not The Shore

Terrible Sons are Lauren and Matt Barus, two New Zealand-based folk musicians who have just come to my attention thanks to their debut album The Raft Is Not The Shore.

By Graeme Smith

The album opens with Birdsong, a wonderfully ambient introduction to the world of Terrible Sons. The vocals are delicate and compelling, while layers of strings create a restful bed. The lyrics are rich with romance and atmosphere. I was certainly inspired by it to continue listening.

Sunset Swimming has a vibrant energy, with licks of electric guitar and descriptive, storytelling lyrics. Easy Love brims with a laidback folk energy and authentic emotion. Aspertus brings a surprise cinematic soundscape while You Can Choose is bright, poppy and playful. Yelling in the Wilderness sits at the heart of the album, a raw and vulnerable gem.

Alright, Alright is mournful yet hopeful Americana that canters along nicely. Hold Your Light High is beautifully soulful while Tomorrow Always Comes is a joyful percussive wonder. Watching and Watching is a gentle, philosophical moment before Young Blossom closes the album with a chanting seven minute odyssey featuring expressive strings and haunting vocal harmonies.

Terrible Sons’ debut is such an easy listen. Calm-inducing vocals lead you through an ever-changing soundscape that brings a new joy with each unfolding track. You can feel the love and effort that has been put into compiling this collection and I hope it introduces them to a wider international audience. They certainly deserve to be heard.

The Raft Is Not The Shore was recorded and produced by Tom Healey. Featuring on the record are Jo McCullum on drums and percussion, Jo Barus on bass and vocals, Tom Healey on electric guitar, London’s Urban Soul Orchestra on strings, Cameron Pearce on horns and an impromptu choir from the pairs local primary school. You can give the album a listen below.