Blue Vervain Explores New Terrain On Immersive Record “North Carolina”

By Kenny Bieber

February 16, 2021

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While traveling anywhere these days isn’t quite the prospect it once was, for Indie/mood-rock outfit Blue Vervain they’ve ventured into gorgeous and hypnotic musical territory with their latest full-length North Carolina which unfolds as a rich, melodic, haunting and personal odyssey showcasing the band at their most accomplished and well-rounded thus far. The influences and moods of North Carolina delve into elements of folk, Americana, Indie-rock and even elements of ambient pop find themselves being interwoven into the arrangements and musical choices and frontman Jon Khan’s performances are vulnerable, soulful and have a raw yet vital undercurrent to them that resonates deeply with the listener.

Opening track “I’d Love to Be in Love” opens the album on a rustic folksy note with echoes of John Wesley Harding-era Bob Dylan detected in its understated yet aching balladry. Vocally and lyrically, Khan delves into the subject of heartache and yearning with a maturity and immediacy that helps to establish a connection with the listener. From there, the record’s sonic palette expands and each track brings something varied to the table. The title track is a breathtaking piece of Americana-inspired rock with a hypnotic hook and surreal lyricism that allows for an ethereal listening experience. And the band truly leans into it’s indie-rock credentials with highlights such as the atmospheric “Numbs Me Out” and the bluesy “If You Don’t Mind” illustrating their musical fluidity. The track’s arrangements have an organic yet distinctive texture that brings each song to life.

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Lyrically, frontman Jon Khan paints abstract yet elegant imagery with impressionistic yet expressive displays of emotion such as on standout track “Cut Throat Competition” which features some of their most deeply constructed hooks and songwriting. On “Down Time” the band experiments with elements of trip-hop and deliver arguably their most ambient and hypnotic piece of music thus far with an equally fascinating vocal delivery from Khan as well. The singularity of the band’s sound allows for a remarkable level of cohesion despite it’s various stylistic changes. Even its sole cover track of the Fleetwood Mac fan favorite “Dreams” feels uniquely their own, thanks to their rich sense of texture and tone. The band’s chemistry is fluid throughout and each member manages to play off one another while still contributing their own particular style and flair to the proceedings. In terms of progression as well, Blue Vervain showcase a genuine level of growth in both songwriting and performance and the maturity and honesty displayed here reveals tremendous layers. As lead vocalist and songwriter, Jon Khan demonstrates his strongest work yet, imbuing each track here with a sincerity, presence and vulnerability that’s deeply personal and captivating as a pure listening experience. At 8 songs total, Blue Vervain utilize each song for maximum impact and manage to craft a full-bodied statement without any trace of filler or bloating, thus making for a truly well-defined and most satisfying listen.

As artists, Blue Vervain have demonstrated the true scale of their potential and artistry with North Carolina. It’s the band’s most deeply realized body of work yet and the progression here results in some of their most personal, artful and engaging music.  We all have plenty of time on our hands these days but this record is more than deserving of yours. Not quite sure when’s the next time I’ll be traveling but I can most certainly say that North Carolina is a musical destination well worth visiting.

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Kenny Bieber is a local music journalist and photographer who also highly values a good pun, quality milkshake and swears he doesn’t have too many records. He’s generally just happy to be here.

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