Review Summary: Silent Steeples, Dispatch's debut album, shows a mix of many genres to create the unique sound which later led the band to success. You will find many obvious highlights to the album, but each song has its own greatness within it. Give this album a fewSilent Steeples
was released in 1996. It was originally released by Dispatch when the name of the band was "One Fell Swoop." However, due to an already existing band with the same title, the name "One Fell Swoop had to go. After a poll on their website, the name was changed to Dispatch. This album was released before their big hit "The General" on their most popular album "Bang Bang." Dispatch was not famous or popular, they were quite unknown outside of the northeast US. Dispatch's debut album was almost completely acoustic, with some flute and bongos in a few tracks. Silent Steeples was the album that started a legacy.
: Vox, Guitar, Bass, Percussion
Pete [Francis] Heimbold
: Vox, Bass, Guitar
: Vox, Drums, Guitar
The album begins with the complete track, Steeples
. Despite the lack of electric instruments, this track has surprising high energy. The chorus, where the members trade off singing, "Sail on, take it back, sail on, take it back..." is very memorable. The second song, Past the Falls
, is sung by the drummer. This song has such a strange feel to it. There is a lot of folk influence, and Braddigan's voice sounds eerie, especially with the echo in place. This track slows down the pace a little bit, but it is an interesting listen.
, and Questioned Apocalypse
are all very similar sounding jams. They each follow the same formula of verses and chorus. Sometimes when you are listening the to the album straight through, these songs blend together and sound as one. Questioned Apocalypse stands out, however, because it is the only electric song on Silent Steeples. Water Stop has a great chorus where all three members are singing at once, something that doesn't happen much in Dispatch's music, but is greatly savored when it occurs.
Something that sets Dispatch apart from many other bands is that each member of the band is equally talented. They can all sing, and they can all sing well. On different tracks, different members are singing. This is what helps to keep the album from sounding the same all the time. All three voices sound very different, and it creates very euphoric feelings when they sing together at once, or when they trade off singing different verses, like in Steeples.
The highlight tracks of Silent Steeples are Flying Horses
. Elias is one of Dispatch's most famous songs to date. It tells the story of a man named Elias from Zimbabwe who is suffering from poverty and wants to see his children grow and have a better life. The song flows so beautifully. The intro is sung in an African dialect, but when translated to English it means "I am strong if you are strong, are you strong? I am strong." Flying Horses also stands out with the catchy chorus and the interesting verses. The harmonica solo is also a major part of the song.
The album reaches it lowest points with Seasons: Movement III
and Walk With You
. Seasons is an interesting track, an instrumental complete with the aid of a flute. However, it doesn't flow together well. The flute also doesn't fit within the song very well. Also, Walk With You, at about seven minutes, just drags on and on. It should have been played faster, or with more feeling. It seems like the band was just burned out when they recorded this song.
After you finish listening to the album, you can tell the definite high and low points of the album. When Dispatch is at their best, such as in Flying Horses or Elias, you could listen to the songs over and over again. However, when Dispatch is at a low point, your hand will hover very close to the skip button. Thankfully, when they are suffering musically or lyrically, the raw talent of these three musicians will help pull the album through. I give the album a 3.5/5 for its smooth flow, consistency, and musicianship. If you don't like Silent Steeples on first listen, give it a few more times and it will definitely grow on you.