From the mysterious tones that open "Fools," it's the sound of Chamberlin's Bitter Blood that captures your attention, far more than the substance or style of the music. There's a striking purity in the expert layering of acoustic and electric guitars to the harmony vocals that weave in and out of those sounds.
However much input Grace Potter's guitarist (and co-leader of Blues & Lasers) Scott Tournet had on the young band's debut, he did little to camouflage Chamberlin's influences. Mark Daly's keening vocal style, combined with a tendency to rely frequently on the dramatic guitar chording upon which "Dust" is built, compels comparison to My Morning Jacket. Of course, a fledgling group could do worse than to emulate Jim James and Co… or The Band, for that matter: it's not so much the currents of organ that run through "Turn Around," but Daly's immersion in the performance that echoes the depth of emotion conveyed by Rick Danko or Richard Manuel.
In contrast, in the midst of those distinctly human tones, the robotic handclaps and looping electronics of "Paper Crown" sounds markedly out of place. Even the more natural sounds of grand piano on that track can't offset its artificiality, but the taut guitars in "Souvenirs," create suspense, while the doleful quasi-soul of the title song reaffirms an honest notion. The mix of acoustic guitars and harmonica on "The Right Guide" is simply delicious, at once forlorn then uplifting when the rhythm section kicks in.
The almost-but-not quite a capella of "Sixty Days," thus becomes a fitting conclusion to Chamberlin's debut. Bitter Blood plays like the aural equivalent of time-lapse photography, capturing the group in the process of coalescing.
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