La Strada – La Strada EP (2009)

La Strada - La Strada EPNot to be confused as a reunion of the defunct 1980s new wave Serbian band, New York indie band La Strada is similar to Zachary Francis Condon-led Beirut but with a more rustic folk mentality.

I can’t imagine either the stress or the fun involved in collaborating with so many musicians to make such pleasant music. With seven members (James Craft – accordion, guitar, vocals; Devon Press – gass, buitar, and accordion; Ted Lattis – guitar; Brady Miller – drums; Maria Jeffers – cello; Daniel Baer – violin; and Corrina Albright – viola), La Strada feels more like an orchestra than a band, joining the likes of Arcade Fire and Margot & The Nuclear So And So’s as similar indie group pop darlings.

What makes La Strada different is their use of pop melody to harmonize their sound rather than carry it forward. Every member lends their vocal talents to the music and the collective ooh’s and ah’s are used to tell part of the story as well. There are no lyrics in “Flying” but the title can point you to direction the song takes given the band’s pleasing, almost relaxed demeanor.

The group vocals depict not only the joy they want to project in the song, but also the joy they seemingly had and have in performing the song. With that in mind, it’s hard not to identify with the music (notwithstanding respective to tastes). The ode to mothers in “Mama” is heartfelt, especially with the collective choral chants that help convey compassion and empathy.

The opening “Orphan” has the utmost charm (with nudges from Craft singing “wake up you silly / shake your sleepy head”), encompassing unyielding love filled with pageantry ambiance by the lovely strings.

The opus “Starling” showcases what a full seven-piece outfit can do with strings, percussions, and a couple of accordions in telling the story of a little bird in a big world: “Welcome to your new world / you’re looking through the eyes / of a child again / the waves are crashing to the ground.” Unfortunately, La Strada’s eponymous debut EP is six tracks long, albeit fuller and more complete than most hour-long sets dream to be.

La Strada

La Strada

[photos via Ernest Jenning Record Co.]

Track list:

    1. Orphan
    2. Sun Song
    3. Flying
    4. Love You All Along
    5. Mama
    6. Starling

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