P Is For Panda
By Giles Turnbull
Lauris Vidal’s work is characterized by carefully sparse band arrangements, making his songs always sound fresh because of the space that seems to let them breathe. His effective writing finds many different and interesting ways to do this from one track to the next. That’s always been a strength of his songwriting; however they’re put down, the songs groove and grab your attention. If you hadn’t imagined a banjo grooving then you definitely need to listen to this record.
Coming from a small town in Florida where real musical instruments are rare; you’ll often find Lauris playing creations like cigar box ukulele, or using picks made of wood from a desk. It therefore catches you a little by surprise, on first listen, to hear real electric guitar, including distorted solos; almost half of the EP in fact is verging on real rock ‘n’ roll.
Things kick off alt-rockily, with title track “Best Part,” followed by “Freed,” which wouldn’t sound out of place on a classic Rolling Stones album. Continuing in the same vein is “Killing Fields,” and then on through folk (“Movin’”) before dropping into laid back dub, with the superb “NY Floors” and “Tragic”; Lauris’ dub banjo is so cool it would melt over ice cubes.
Whichever track you listen to, it’s characteristic Lauris, with intelligent lyrics and tunes that have you tapping your foot and singing along. Stop to think that the EP is generously proportioned with seven tracks, effectively making it a mini-album, and you realize you’re getting a lot of great entertainment value for your money.
Better Part draws to its eventual conclusion with “Would You,” the most bluesy rock ‘n’ roll of the EP, so much so that visions of banjos being set on fire and smashed into amplifiers will almost certainly cross your mind.
Better Part is released on September 21.
Lauris Vidal plays The Drunken Unicorn with Dave Daniels & The PTA on September 8.