It’s no secret that I’ve been looking forward to the release of the debut album by We Are the Guests since the beginning of the year. I won’t go into too much detail of how I found this band in this review, so be sure to check out the interview I did with them back in February to learn more about the band and the process they took towards creating their debut album, Daughters & Sons. All I can say is that the album was truly worth the wait, and it has lived up to what I would’ve expected based on all of the singles released throughout this year leading up to it. Clay Graber and Kyla Mitchell join forces with a slew of talented musicians to offer up an album full of memorizing tunes.
It may seem strange to some to compare We Are The Guests to the Swedish band, Roxette, since their musical styles are drastically different, but there is one thing that is the same between both bands, and it’s something that draws me into loving them both. That “thing” is the combination of a full bell toned female voice with excellent belting abilities combined with a raspier, grittier man’s voice in contrast. Those two tones just seem to compliment each other so well and offer a delightful audible balance for the listener.
Daughters & Sons opens with “Sing For Me,” which was released as a single earlier this year and gave listeners their first taste of what the full album would have to offer. The song is an excellent representation of the style the band delivers – which is songs that are so much more than just one verse, one chorus, or one bridge. Their songs offer highs & lows, softness & power, upbeats & downbeats. Other previously released singles that show up on the album include “Gold” and “I Hope,” both of which find a comfortable home alongside the delivery of the powerful new tracks.
“Game I Play” follows up the opening track and has a story that is close to home for many, especially people who live in the fast paced culture of the United States. The “game” he plays is very much the balance of “work to live” vs. “live to work.” It has tones of the regret that comes with our “live to work” attitude, but also the chance to make the choice to focus your time where it truly matters for more happiness.
“Timberman” explodes out after the slower “Gold” and offers a tune that’ll get stuck in your head for days (in a good way). Mitchell’s voice belts out, “Timber Timberman” over and over again and Graber‘s raspier vocals lift up her amazing pitch in wonderful harmonies. This song is really where Mitchell gets to shine with her belting abilities.
After the previously released, “I Hope,” fills your ears with pleasantries, the album slows down a bit with its 5 minute offering of “6 AM.” I know I refer to Graber‘s vocals as “raspy” and “gritty,” but I mean those descriptive terms with the highest of compliments. I LOVE that kind of vocal tone when it comes to being able to express emotion in a song. He leads the way on “6 AM” and gets to show his chops.
“Overspoken” is not to be underrated, and delivers amazing Irish-style fiddle and whistle work. The song is a slow burn into the more powerful fast finger-work musical interludes. Once it picks up, though, it takes you for a ride. It takes a turn at the end that makes you almost feel as though you’ve been time warped into a classic Western, and then picks up to finish off with a fresh sound.
The next track on the album is probably my favorite, though it’s hard to choose. I love “Moda.” It begins with plucky string work and gives both vocalists their chance to shine. This song is really where Mitchell gets to show off her great vocal pitch skills. Right around the 2 minute and 24 second mark is where I adore her vocal work. Her fluidity between notes seems effortless.
The album wraps up with both its shortest song and its longest song. The shortest song being the album’s title song, “Daughters & Sons.” The longest song being, “The Ballad,” clocking in at 10 and a half minutes. “Daughters & Sons,” though short, is a powerful anthem. I love the build to the chorus and look forward to when the band is able to play this song live and have their audience singing along. “The Ballad,” by name, may be a bit deceptive. It certainly starts out like a ballad, but throughout has its moments where it picks up, gets louder, and then slows back down again. Whether it truly matches its name in style or not doesn’t really matter, though, as the song is quite lovely and takes you on an amazing musical journey from start to finish. The final words the album delivers are timely, as well, and leave my heart welling up – “Don’t take for granted this night…”