“Come set us free” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
These folk-rock songs make you want to be part of the band. You can see yourself in a circle of friends, hanging out and making beautiful music. The album “Here” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros is magnificent and low-key at the same time. The Rolling Stone calls it “let’s-be-mellow-around-the-campfire vibe” and that’s about right.
The musical collective from Los Angeles is based around a fictional character named Edward Sharpe. But really, the group consists of singers Alex Ebert and Jade Castrinos, as well as up to 20 musicians that are or were part of the collective. Who or what Edward Sharpe is, and if that re-invention of Ebert’s identity is pretentious or not, does not matter to me at all.
Over heartache and pain
The first song “Man on Fire” draws you in. It starts with guitar fingerpicking, and immediately you can feel the collective: background humming starts and stays for remaining song. In the chorus more singers join in with Ebert (who sounds like Johnny Cash). The lyrics give you the reason, quite directly, why you should keep listening to the whole album. The man on fire has “only one desire – for the whole damn’ world – to come dance with me.” The extra voices make the song complete, but they are not overly orchestrated, which gives the song a jamming, easy feel. It’s a warm, accepting, inclusive piece of music. You will start tapping your foot, or snapping your fingers. Right with this first song I handed myself over to the album, fully, and enthusiastically.
Most touching: Child
The song “Child” is quiet, it features an acoustic guitar and Ebert’s vocals, and follows a soft but persisting beat. Without listening to the lyrics I was immediately touched by the melody, and some lyric snippets that got through to me (“Stay a child, child right now – And wonders why we ever ever have to die”). It’s a simple, beautiful tune, similar to “Mayla”.
I really like the start of the song:
The voices in my head are shadows, shadows
She comes to me, to tell me what they’re after
Says it ain’t the end boy but you best be careful, careful
Might catch your tail end in a circle, circle
Fiya Wata is a song like a strong river
Another song that stands out is “Fiya Wata“. When I listened to it the first time I wrote a note: Who is that woman? It’s Jade Castrinos, and when she’s singing “It’s true – We’re one – We’re all each other” this might sound cheesy but I want to believe her. The song is like a strong river, you want to throw yourself into this song never to emerge again. I was almost angry that it ended, and only the next, gentle song “All Wash Out” could console me. It is the last song on the album. Just because All Wash Out is so beautiful I could get over that the album was finished – only to press PLAY again (and again, and again).
Don’t skip songs
This album makes the daily stuff matter less. Beware, it will make you sing along – so it might not be public-transport-proof.
- Official website with tunes to play (Man on Fire, That’s What’s up, and songs from previous albums)
- Interview with Ebert in the Guardian
- Rather critical review on Pitchfork.com
- Review on consequenceofsound.net
- Short review by the Rolling Stone
- Review that finds traces of Johnny Cash, Carole King and Bob Marley in the songs