THE EPSTEIN – Burn The Branches (Zawinul Records ZWRO102)

Burn The BranchesHaving followed The Epstein for many years, I’m constantly reminded of how difficult it is for a top quality band to find the break they deserve to take them to the next level. With fierce competition in the UK, the answer may lie more in luck than skill, despite the fact that the band has built a healthy following both here and in The Netherlands and Germany. Whatever the case, their new release, Burn The Branches, should leave us in no doubt about their credentials; The Epstein projects a passionate, all-encompassing sound that would be equally comfortable in a living room and a stadium. Burn the Branches is an ambitious foray into what they do best: souring ballads, luscious guitars and tunes that stay with you all the way home.

This is their third album of songs. The line-up has changed over the years, but has always been anchored by singer/songwriter Olly Wills. There’s a smattering of harmony, but at the forefront is his clear tenor voice that can be both tender (on the opening track, ‘That Voice’) and anthemic (‘Make This Our Home’). Many of the tracks start with a stripped back acoustic sound, building layer upon layer of all-encompassing instrumental and percussive soundscapes. ‘Wandering’ and their single, ‘Lay Me Down’, are typical: they crescendo to full-throttle rock songs. By contrast, ‘Red Rocks’ is a retro-acoustic folk song, and ‘Grand Canyon’ is a perhaps the nearest to pure Americana. Every song is accessible, with hooks that would do REM proud. In short, there’s a great deal of variety and discovery here, yet all with the distinctive ambience that makes The Epstein a cut above. Catch them live, buy the CD, and be the richer for it.

Jon Bennett

Artists’ website:

Band videos are hard to find but here is Olly Mills performing ‘Red Rocks’: