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Smart Flesh Limited Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (21 Feb. 2011)
  • Limited Edition edition
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Format: Limited Edition
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B004CJ8A5C
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,289 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Ghost Woman Blues
  2. Apothecary Love
  3. Boeing 737
  4. Love and Altar
  5. Matter of Time
  6. Wire
  7. Burn
  8. Hey, All You Hippies!
  9. I'll Take Out Your Ashes
  10. Golden Cattle
  11. Smart Flesh

Disc: 2

  1. Maybe So
  2. Vines
  3. Dreams Can Chase You Down
  4. Ghost Woman Blues (Pasta Sauce Factory – Video)

Product Description

BBC Review

Listening to The Low Anthem’s breakthrough album – 2009’s Oh My God, Charlie Darwin – was a jarring experience. It was a clashing of two genres: profoundly moving acoustic folk and raucous blues-rock. The clash was so marked, it sounded like two separate bands. But the album was roundly praised by critics, who claimed that the two tones combined to capture a vision of America that was grounded in tradition but evolving and fragmented.

Whether you agree or not, it was a tough listen. Smart Flesh plays no such games. Its tone is more unified, dominated by the sensitive end of The Low Anthem’s spectrum: while its predecessor is difficult to define, Smart Flesh is unquestionably a folk album, a record of acoustic guitars, banjos, vocal harmonies and timeless tales. The rock is still there on Hey, All You Hippies! and Boeing 737, but now it pours out in a more controlled fashion – so as not to stamp all over the delicacy of the other songs, but to complement them. Indeed, Boeing 737 is a huge, stomping anthem that sounds like Bob Dylan fronting Arcade Fire. If The Low Anthem don’t release it as a single, they’re mad.

The rest of the album is easy-going and mellifluous, songs built on the simplest of patterns. Each songwriter takes their turn, but the voices don’t compete with each other. So Ben Knox Miller’s Love and Altar, which shares a similar angelic tone to Bon Iver, blends seamlessly into Jeff Prystowsky’s Matter of Time, even though the latter’s vocal is gravellier. And then we get Jocie Adams’s clarinet solo on Wire, which is stunning.

Fans of Oh My God, Charlie Darwin may be disappointed by just how well Smart Flesh hangs together, and there is certainly an argument to be had here about whether this more unified sound is a little too predictable, a little too easy, to keep you gripped. There are lulls amongst these 11 tracks when your mind starts to wander – Burn doesn’t deserve its slot after Wire, and should have been dropped altogether, while some of the album’s later tracks seem to mimic what has gone before. An injection of passion towards the end would have helped: without it, Smart Flesh comes across as a little too atonal to be described as a classic.

--Mike Haydock

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
After the (critical at least) success of 2009's 'Oh My God, Charlie Darwin', you could easily have forgiven The Low Anthem going all Kings Of Leon on us and releasing a more radio friendly unit shifter in the vein of the Tennessians recent 'Come Around Sundown' LP. This is the route that many a lesser band would have endeavoured to take and it is to the Rhode Islander's credit that they have stuck to their initial vision and once again plundered the depths of the 'quiet storm'.

So the fable goes that 'Smart Flesh' was recorded in an abandoned pasta sauce factory in their native Rhode Island. This is easily identifiable by the records vast depth of sound which is akin to hearing a beautiful hymn being sung in the Sistine Chapel. Tracks such as 'Matter Of Time' or 'Burn' take joy from the smallest of incident (see the incredible use of theirmin in the latter) almost evoking a religious like epiphany. From these quite awakenings, seas could part and man could ressurect from death. The band seem to take joy in making music that is borne from the ether, it feels like a strong wind would blow it away like petals on a violet flower, never to be heard of again.

These quiet, almost hymnal moments are undoubtedly the records high point with opener 'Ghost Woman Blues' and the penultimate 'Golden Cattle' being barely auidible beneath the deafening silence but devastating in their noise. But amongst all this silence sits the standout 'Boeing 737' which is most easily indentifible as being this record's 'The Horizon Is A Beltway' (from OMGCD).
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase

A Review by Pete Shields ( Candlelit )

I stumbled upon The Low Anthem about two years ago when I heard the brilliant song CHARLIE DARWIN and purchased the CD Album OH MY GOD CHARLIE DARWIN, which soon became a favourite amongst my vast collection.

I then heard the song BURN and ordered SMART FLESH purely on the strength of this outrageously beautiful song - like Leonard Cohen at his brilliant best - also because I have enjoyed Charlie Darwin so much.

Smart Flesh does not disappoint in any way.
It has had many listens, before posting this review, and its "draw" is more powerful the the most addictive narcotic

It begins with the haunting GHOST WOMAN BLUES, which is a fabulous opening track, swathed in glorious melody and harmony and structured around a lovely double bass and piano with carefully chosen and crafted instrumentation - the clarinet is beautiful
The Low Anthem are wonderful musicians who are always totally sympathetic to each and every song - pure artists of the very highest order.

There are another 5 outstanding songs before we arrive at BURN, which has to be the ballad of the decade.

Every track makes this album " the complete listen "
The movement and variation maintaining the listeners intense attention throughout.

The album ends with the stunning title track, SMART FLESH - another poetic, lyricall masterpiece of Cohen proportions.

I adore this band and this album is even stronger than Oh My God Charlie Darwin - if artistic, understated music is your thing, go buy it - you won't regret it
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Format: Audio CD
Recording an album in a vast abandoned pasta sauce factory near Rhode Island clearly impacted on The Low Anthem for their third release "Smart Flesh". On times you can almost feel the shivering inducing atmospherics seep into this record. As such it is an album that has more in common with their 2007 country orientated "What the crow brings" than 2009's breakthrough "Oh my god Charlie Darwin" with Ben Knox Miller and co returning with a sparse and eerily slow piece of work which brims with nostalgia and fragile delicacy. "Smart Flesh" is an album you have going to have to stick with until its starts to burrow into your head like an old prairie dog into the great plains. It has a flyover states feel to it and the spirits of Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, Leonard Cohen, The Band and Mercury Rev scream out of its vinyl grooves and often luminous compositions.

The Low Anthem are a band that reaffirms your faith in real music. 2009s "Oh my god Charlie Darwin" was one of the best of albums of that year and in ballads like "To Ohio", "To the Ghosts who write history books" and "Charlie Darwin" they produced some of the finest songs of the past decade. Yet judged together "OMGCD" was a bit of a bi-polar record with lovely choral folk sitting alongside Pogues style out and out stompers. "Smart Flesh" is alternatively more of a unified and complete whole but it does have real weakness and you may struggle to get to excited by either "Love and alter" which just about stays the right side of an Art Garfunkel song, the glacially ponderous title track which could have been happily edited from its seven plus minutes to half its length or the pleasant but rather anodyne instrumental "Wire".
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