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There’s a healthy dichotomy at work on Seeds and Thorns, the engaging new album by Philly folk artist UP THE CHAIN. A “band” in a unique sense, Up the Chain is really the muse of PA native Reed Kendall, rounded out by some of Philly’s finest musicians.
Seeds and Thorns, produced by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog), follows UTC’s 2011 full-length debut Holy, Open, Drying Road. Inspired by his musical heroes — Conor Oberst, Neil Young, Ryan Adams, local fave Amos Lee, Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes, even Paul Simon — Kendall kept the recordings for Seeds simple at heart, making sure to serve the songs the way they were written, simply on guitar or, for the first time, on piano.
That said, Seeds is as rich of a record as it is intimate, full of piano, trumpets, strings and big harmonies. And there’s a real Americana vibe at work, a rootsy feeling that’s never twangy.
Expect to see some more dynamic at work on Up the Chain’s upcoming tour. “If there’s anything that stands out about what I do,” says Kendall, “I hope it’s the sincerity of the live performance.” Touring in nearly every setup from a duo to a five-piece, Kendall has made waves both in his hometown (including a recent, well-regarded show at the historic Philly Folk Fest) and up and down both coasts.
“Somebody once said I write songs that are somehow both energetic and laid back,” says Kendall. “They also said ‘catchy yet substantive.’ I was proud of that. I hope that’s what I’m doing.”