Review Summary: With nothing more than a guitar and their voices these girls tell stories of nature, lust, and a gal named Sadie Doreen.
Every time I listen to Made The Harbor I get taken to a cabin out in the woods, the same place The Glow Pt 2 takes you to. Except this time its not a heartbroken guy, but instead three girls from Vermont with some of the best voices you will ever hear. The stories and emotions shared through these songs are very personal and you cannot help but being taken away to that cabin in the woods.
The album was recorded in an old 20th century ice cream parlor, and it sounds just as bare as the place it was recorded in. With the only instrument being a guitar that is played simply to back the girls mesmerizing voices, this album is stripped bare, producing the feeling that you are sitting in the room beside them. These girls can sing and they can sing well, their harmonies are so tight and perfect, along with their fantastic melodies it makes the main focus on them. They are able to transport the listener to many places through the stories told in the lyrics. The lyrics are vivid, captivating and are at no time pretentious or boring. The albums first track "Buffalo" shows the girls harmonies skip and slide overtop of a simple finger picked guitar while they tell tales of “the great black hills”, and “Dog Song” finds the sun questioning the moon over top of three note guitar chords backing their vocals perfectly. The bee bop a capella tune “How’m I Doin’” tells the story of the hottest girl down in New Orleans getting weak in the knees under the moonlight. This song shows that even without a guitar they can craft amazing songs utilizing just their voices, and this isn't the only time they do so. "River", the albums closer, is an a capella tune in which the girls show us fully how amazing their voices are. They're able to create a driving, catchy melody line and a song that closes off the album perfectly.
“Soft Skin” is one of the most beautiful songs about lust ever recorded. Another simple finger picked guitar starts the song as she warns “I have soft skin/are you gona let me in?". In some of the albums most vivid lyrics she gently sings “We’re so wet and we’re so tight/lean me down into the floor tonight”. The emotion added by the girls voices is amazing, and as she croons “Let me go” at the end of the song you feel a great sadness wash over. The most moving song on the album is “Animal Tracks”. The skipping guitar is met by a wispy vocal line describing summer with someone she loves until the chorus, when the girls sprawling harmonies sing about following animal tracks through the woods. As she asks “How will I know, how will I know?" and the harmonies soar and wash over it is overwhelming, and as the last lyrics are sung the song disappears and leaves you wondering what else is out there in the woods.
Now this album is no Glow Pt 2, but it still manages to take you away to that forest Phil Elvrum first took us to. The sweet harmonies slide and the guitar plucks, but it feels like there’s more than just that. Love in the summer air and the great Mississippi are some pieces of the picture created, and a picture is worth a thousand words. With nothing more than a guitar and their voices these girls tell stories of nature, lust, and a gal named Sadie Doreen.