Published Jan 01, 2006Contact with a Deadly Snake is usually a life-threatening situation. In the case of Peterborough-based roots orchestra the Silver Hearts, it proved lifesaving. The acclaimed 12-member collective were on hiatus and facing an uncertain future when an encounter with Deadly Snakes singer Andre Ethier provided a jolt of creative adrenaline.
In 2004, Ethier appeared on the groups recreation of Tom Waits famed recording, Rain Dogs (released as a Silver Hearts album last year), and the combination clicked instantly. The new marriage is now consummated on their fourth disc, Dear Stranger. Andre contributed three songs as well as adding characteristically full-blooded vocals.
The result is the groups most focused work yet, according to Silver Heart Dave Tough. "Because of the instrumentation in the band [everything from theremin to viola to banjo], there has always been an emphasis on sound rather than songs. Here we tried to play to the song, and only added sounds and parts that worked to support the song.
"This was also the first album where we captured the energy of the live show, and ironically this is the one where a lot of the songs dont sound as much like Silver Hearts songs, largely because Andre is singing them. He takes serious liberties with the songs, so that added an element we hadnt had before.
Multi-instrumentalist Tough contributed five songs, and notes that "Id gone through a prolific writing period during the bands hiatus. He confesses that on previous records, song selection was "pretty chaotic, the war of all against each. It was like a horse-trading politicking approach to getting things done, which is sort of unavoidable with such a big band. For Dear Stranger, we gave a lot of that responsibility to [producers] James Greenspan and John Gilbert; they could decide what made the cut on musical grounds.