Come Gather Round Us‘ sophomore outing, Despair?, was recorded in the fall of 2009 in Portland in front of a small studio audience. Due to other commitments, the band couldn’t get back together to mix the album until the summer of 2010. After almost a year away from the recording, ideas came fast to the four about how to enhance, but keep the integrity of the original recording.
Come Gather Round Us is made up of Catherine Feeny and Sebastian Rogers, who was ballsy enough to do something to catch Catherine’s attention at her CD release party for her first solo album, along with Jon Neufeld and Mike Danner.
Despair? is an incredible collection of 10 songs that are politically charged (“Freedom or Death”), deeply personal (“Windchime”), and telling stories (“Frontline”). The album is not quite perfect with a single song that you can skip, but, aside from one track, the album is phenomenal. It’s a masterwork of folk music and feels immediately appropriate to people of my particular mindset and beliefs.
The album starts with “Home”, a sad and beautifully sung, by Feeny, song that begins with “I don’t have a heart” and ends by crooning “I don’t dream of flying,/ but I dream of falling,/ Home.” It’s one of those songs that is almost universally understood and easy to relate to. The second track is “Windchime” which is a mellow track that features a banjo and a lap guitar that give it a slightly country sound. It’s a very personal song that laments the writer’s shortcomings and her own responsibility in the way her life is. Lyrics like “Judgment is a slippery sword, it’s a treacherous weapon to use,/We turn it on the ones we love and then cry for the blood that they lose” make this song an incredible addition to the album and an easy contender for song of the year. It’s better because it ends with a mini-pep talk, with lyrics like “You must speak words of love to yourself,/ So you can speak words of love to everyone else.”
The next two songs, “Freedom or Death” and “Holy White Ghosty”, are two of the more politically/religiously charged and preachy (in a really really good way) songs. “Freedom or Death” is a funky acoustic song with some stomping and clapping, which go great with the anger present in the song at the reputation our country has gathered over the past decade.