Youth in a Roman Field Blend Genres on ‘Storm Conductor’

Youth In A Roman Field

It’s all but impossible to peg down Youth in a Roman Field and that’s one of the more miraculous things about them. Despite protestations from bands and musical artists about how they defy labels, most fall into an array of certain stylistic types and sustain, at least, a tangential relation to the classifications they so often chafe under. Youth in a Roman Field, however, are truly an uncategorizable act.


Claire Wellin and her bandmates keep their feet in a variety of genres, moving from folk to jazzy inflections with nary a slip, and are obviously confident with this sort of musical sleight of hand. Their new full-length album Storm Conductor finds them moving into a new stage of their recording careers – far from simply consolidating the artistic success of their 2012 full-length debut and later EP follow up, this thirteen song collection finds the Chicago sprung and NYC based act pushing into new areas of refinement.


“Target On My Back” is the first full-length song on the album, the second overall, and finds Wellin commanding listener’s attention from her first entrance. The lyrical fatalism lurking in the heart of the lyric will captivate attentive listeners and she enhances the strong words with a level of phrasing nuance many of her vocal peers cannot begin to match. Her voice bears certain similarities to other female vocalists you’ve heard without naming names, but she outdistances any debts or claims of imitation with her ability to effortlessly glide between styles.


“Town Hall” begins as a much sparser, haunting tune and has a relatively brief running time, but it’s rather miraculous hearing Youth in a Roman Field build a small universe of melody and sound from those stripped bare beginnings. “M.M.E.” provides us with a violin showcase of sorts, but the members of Youth in a Roman Field are never the sort of band who embrace showy instrumental breaks and, instead, those moments when individual players shine are uniformly geared towards further elevating the track.


Strings bring listeners into “Solid Ground”, but listeners will soon find themselves once again locked into a dance with Wellin’s voice and spartan musical accompaniment with the presence of strings recurring throughout the track. It’s one of the album’s more spectral, suggestive numbers. Wellin’s voice is largely unaccompanied on the song “Slings in the Air”, but there are some secondary vocals added into the mix at crucial points that raise things another notch higher for listeners and the light touch of atmospherics thanks to the other band members shows tremendous imagination for such a condensed tune.


Storm Conductor’s penultimate tune, “The Fool”, has a surprising uptempo slant working its way into the mix, but it never sounds incongruous when compared to the surrounding songs and the difference in texture is welcome this late in the release. Storm Conductor concludes with the wholly unexpected and wildly successful finale “When the City Goes Quiet”, an acapella curtain closer with a stunningly fluid vocal arrangement that shows ambition and matches its aims. Youth in a Roman Field are more than just a cut above – this six-piece band is a seminal unit for our times and, in less impoverished times, would have likely received much more of their due than they thus far have. No matter. Releases like this stand the test of time and representative of what committed, tasteful artistry is still capable of accomplishing.


Find more Youth In A Roman Field HERE.

The album is available on AMAZON


     -review by Scottie Carlito

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