Local music has much to be desired as it offers many people a unique and new sound that differs from the current music industry with its repetitive pop tracks and poor lyric choice. Local music combines the powerful ability many genres have in captivating an audience, but heavily relies on listeners from the area around them, as many of their songs reflect current situations in the environment.
In the Kalamazoo area, many local indie rock and folk musicians have blossomed, performing at bars and other music halls. Once such band has received both state and national recognition.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot is an alternative folk duo from Kalamazoo, Michigan, comprising of guitar and vocalist Phil Barry, and vocalist Sarah Fuerst. Their inspiration is drawn heavily from woodley folk tunes and hints of bluegrass. Their self titled EP contains four songs: “Dark Days,” “Easy Now,” “All the Gold,” and “Your Love is a Cannonball.” Each has their own unique sound of light, acoustic fingerpicking echoing in the background as the two harmonize.
The intricate yet distant fingerpicking offers a melancholy feel throughout “Dark Days” as the song envelops the perseverance and determination to be “with you through your darkest days.” The song’s haunting ambiance leaves a unique and chilling tone throughout listeners as it raises questions of morality and responsibility among them. It is then lightly contrasted with the bright and joyful sounds of “Easy Now,” which replaces the hollow and natural woody tones of “Dark Days” through its use of a harmonica, vintage piano and softly played drums at a steady pace.
“All the Gold” is the third song on the EP, and it returns back to the basic guitar and harmonization combination. This song tells the tale of someone comparing all the gold at the bottom of the sea, and how it “ain’t worth nothin next to you.” It’s raw acoustics and spot on vocals hit a joyous tone throughout as “All the Gold” in the world is useless compared to the ones you love.
The last and final song in the EP is “Your Love is a Cannonball” which combines powerful lyrics as well as superlative acoustics. Instead of focusing on the desire to find someone you love, it focuses on how many people have both hard and soft sides to them and many can be destructive.
Throughout the album, the duo express a multitude of themes and symbols. A common theme represented in the album is the longing for love. This is represented heavily from the idea in “Dark Days” that love and hope will prevail through the “Darkest Days” as well as in “All the Gold,” where the desire for love is amplified when someone is down or hit rock bottom.
Themes of love are then complemented with symbols of deceit, despair and depression such a cannonball to symbolize the love/hate relationship we all have with someone or the deep, dark ocean which offers hidden treasure but blinds us from what is on the surface.
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot have received a lot of publicity after they received praise from Mark Sahlgren of WMUK/NPR Bluegrass as well as by other famous critics. Their unique tone can best be described as a mix between Bob Dylan on guitar and Simon and Garfunkel on vocals. Nevertheless, their unique takes on describing the complicated issue of love is perfected through their simple and humble folk sound and offers many folk enthusiasts in the Kalamazoo area something to be looking forward to the next time they perform.
To find out more information about this band you can visit their website at www.thunderboltandlightfootband.com. You can also purchase their album from iTunes or listen to it for free on Soundcloud.
By Brian Hall