Victoria B.C. indie-folk-rockers Naked by the Fire released their new self titled album on July 31st, 2022. The 9 tracks deliver everything promised in the band’s bio : probing, thoughtful lyrics, sing-along choruses, lush vocal harmonies, ear-wormy guitar lines, and a versatile vibe, ranging from acoustic-folk to rock and roll wildness.
I truly enjoyed the pre-release singles, Headlong, Goddamn Miles, Westbound, and was eager to hear the album in its entirety.
If you didn’t know (you probably did, but I'll say it anyway), there is a method to laying out the tracks on an album. When all is said and done - the writing, the endless practicing, the recording, the mixing, mastering, cover art - a band has to decide which order the tracks will appear on the album in order to create a specific listening experience at the end. "The Art of the Mixtape" if you will. Many a decent album has been sabotaged to some degree due to oversight in this final, crucial area. It’s the last piece of the puzzle, the cherry on top. A long winded over-explanation just to say I think Naked by the Fire did a truly amazing job on the song order. The theme and essence of the album really carries through. Listening to a good album should feel like floating down a river when the current is just right. This is one of those good, floating down the river albums.
I’ve already written my thoughts on Headlong and Goddamn Miles, so I’ll begin my album review with track 3 - Westbound.
You can read the reviews for Headlong and Goddamn Miles here:
Westbound has the stamina and energy of an 80’s or 90’s rock ballad with Springsteen E Street vibes. It’s a statement song full of emotion with refreshing, melodic guitar riffs that set the tone for the rest of the album.
On Coquihalla Sunrise you'll notice soft keys coming into the mix, elevating the emotional affect of the album. Side Note: Naked by the Fire was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Julian Marrs at Marrs Audio in Victoria, B.C. When writing reviews it’s all about first impressions and gut feeling. Listening to this song for the first time, I was immediately presented with an image of the band at the studio, Julian at the helm, toying with reverb and levels on vocal harmonies. Subtle changes to this and that, and when it's finally right and everyone’s feeling it - how sweet the sound.
If I Had Another Day has stripped back acoustic vibes to start with a simple harmonica adding elements. A soft kick drum thumps in the background before the track really takes off. The lyrics speak about moving on from regret and jubilant surrender. Lovely.
Slippin' Away feels like a pleasant reverb dream wrapped in a folk-rock cloud. Close your eyes and just move to this one. It suggests heartache, longing, being away from home and the need for personal resolution, all which carry through the melody and lyrics.
Rue Saint Jean has the it factor. It sounds just right. The chord progressions are right, the mood is right. This tune feels like an announcement : "We are Naked by the Fire. What you're hearing right now comes from the heart. It means a lot to us and to everyone involved." The song has an undeniable sense of pride wrapped up in its many layers. I felt it.
This Much I Know has a bluesy soulful vibe to it right from the get go. Gentle drum rolls and a lofty bass line fill up the mix nicely, and the guitar solo around 1:45 is unreal.
Manuscript Song closes out the album nicely. A folk rock waltz with spoken word elements, mesmerizing harmonies that rise and fall at just the right times. The composition here is on point. Fantastic.
In conclusion, Naked by the Fire have really hit the mark on this album. I think that it’s the perfect soundtrack for quiet summer nights, dancing, introspective and celebratory moments. I've listened to it again and again, discovering new treasures within each time. The album has a genuineness and sincerity that demonstrates the band’s personal investment into every chord, every lyric, layer and element. I honestly Naked by the Fire will be making big waves in Canada and beyond.
Bio: Naked by the Fire is a group based in Victoria, BC. Their indie-rock-folk style is heavily influenced by the singer-songwriter/folk tradition, but draws on elements of rock and indie, which gives the music a driving, restless energy. It’s Folk with a back-beat, if you will. The music begins with the songwriting duo of Jacob Leger and Jeremy Earley, backed by the grooviest rhythm section on Vancouver Island, Clayton Flett and Eric Their.
Their music is characterized by probing, thoughtful lyrics, sing-along choruses, lush vocal harmonies, ear-wormy guitar lines, and a versatile vibe, ranging from acoustic-folk to rock and roll wildness. They just completed their first studio album, which will be released July 31st 2022. They tour relentlessly throughout BC, and have played shows across the country from Victoria to Halifax.
Naked by the Fire is Jeremy Earley (Guitar, vocals), Jacob Leger (Guitar, vocals), Clayton Flett (Drums, vocals), and Eric Thier (Bass, Vocals).
Check out the video for Headlong on YouTube!