Audible Painting: Dietrich Strause and The Blue Ribbons EP

Collaboration is an age old tradition in music. Its especially a frequent occurrence in the Cambridge/Somerville music community. From sporadically pulling a musician up from the sea of faces in the audience at a Lizard Lounge show or jumping in during an in the round at Passim’s campfire. festival. Its not unusual for artists from separate projects to know one another’s tunes, sing along or for a fleeting moment become part of that story. What isn’t all too common is for two powerhouses in the local pool of talent to gather together and create a collection of recorded works. That is just what Dietrich Strause and The Blue Ribbons have done with a newly released EP. While it feels very much like a Dietrich Strause record in the bare bones of the songs contained within, from the voicings and phrasing of certain words (all songs were written by Dietrich) but its the color to the songs that most every Cambridge musician’s favorite residency band adds to the songs that make it stand out in Dietrich’s catalogue of songs. I feel like that is a art and competence that is all too often neglected. The ability to shade certain parts of a song and illuminate others. Taking tunes and elevating them to a place where they may not have sat if different musicians were sitting behind the mics. That is the art of a true musical partnership.

The record opens with a buoyant and rollicking number and while the first line may indicate that “the lights went down on the 58th floor”, the yellow jubilance and excitement within the song are a nice juxtaposition to it. The keys and guitar lines playfully talking back and forth. A solid rhythm section and a shoulder swaying feel keep the vibrations moving along. Setting a tone you may think you will gladly endure for the 7 tracks, but there is much depth in the palette of these songs and the brush strokes that the Ribbons wipe across Strause’s songs are diverse and impressive.

All the Creatures” is doted with dark hues of emerald and deep forest greens. A throbbing and cavernous bass line, with the occasional roll of the toms are backed by the longing sound of mesmerizing, almost distant held chords from the organ. Acoustic guitar notes ever slowly trickling along, like a slow moving stream through a dark forest of enveloped instruments. Parting a breeze to let in just a bit of light on occasion, but overall dark and protective of what it holds within. Secretive.

The follow up “Coronation of Queen” is golden hued, as the crown on the head of the song’s namesake may adorn. Bright and uptempo, varying guitar lines that ring like a bell at moments and are tubey and warm the next. A beam of luminous and radiant light that is hard to not get moving too. Swirling instruments and breaking for the vocals at just the right moments.

The closing track is blues all the way. Indigos and deep midnight hues. Strause’s voice taking on a solemn and sleepy tone. The band following suit with swells from the guitar and a slow walking bass, creating a pillowy dream-like state within its 4 or so minute run time.

Don’t let this one pass you by. It isn’t often you get two of the juggernauts from one music community in a tight collection of infectious tunes that you will want to dig deep into again and again. The dovetailing of the Blue Ribbons loose creativity that can turn on a dime and create some truly brilliant and special moments with Strause keen eye and fastidious detail for songwriting…well, it just plain works.

Get this record today and keep an eye out for more live collaborations from Dietrich Strause and the boys of the Blue Ribbons.