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Turin Brakes: Voices Glide And Dance

Great songwriting is about more than just melody, chord structures, incisive lyrics or tight rhythms; it's also about the many mysterious subtleties of vocal phrasing, and about the way the human voice bends to complement every other component of a song.

In "Sea Change," the London folk-pop duo Turin Brakes takes full advantage of the way words can glide and dance around a piece of music. Opening with a picked guitar line that wouldn't sound out of place if played on a banjo in a bluegrass band, "Sea Change" moves with a bright and bouncy pastoral swing that's packaged alongside dark sentiments such as, "Six billion backs against the wall / Now, do we walk or run?" If Turin Brakes' members do one thing better than anything else, it's lift up a given word and let it simply glide across the speaker -- it's a skill employed to great effect in the chorus of "Sea Change," which gathers speed and steam as the song barrels along. Whether fussed-over or not, the sweet phrasing lends tension to the verses that surround it, making those choruses feel like sweet relief.

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Andy Young