January 11, 2023 Music
Picture it: You pack a bag and hop on a plane heading out to Water Valley, Mississippi with some of your best friends in the world. Not necessarily a vacation destination, but a special place nonetheless. This city in Mississippi is home to Dial Back Sound, an old-school studio that’s had amazing acts pass through its halls since 2009.
Ogden’s own Snarlin’ Yarns have made this pilgrimage twice: They’ve recorded both of their albums at this beloved studio, having the time of their lives. Dial Back is almost a part of the band itself, an added bit of coolness sprinkled into the already talented and eclectic group.
The Snarlin’ Yarns were formed around 2016 or 2017—and by their own admission, they’re unsure which one. Not because it doesn’t matter to them, but because this tight-knit group is so close, it feels like they’ve been jamming together forever. “We just got together and jammed and enjoyed listening to one another,” said former Ogden Poet Laureate Abraham Smith. “We started playing locally around town, brunches and things like that and mainly did covers.”
The group also began to lean into guitarist and vocalist William Pollett’s songs at the time, and things evolved from there. “It was kind of a feverish contagion. Everybody started writing their own songs,” Smith said.
Mara Brown (fiddle/vocals) and Jason Barrett-Fox (banjo/vocals) also made up the original quartet, but the Yarns have since gained Ryan Ridge (bass) and Tomas Dolph (ukulele/vocals), rounding out the lineup, making it feel complete. “It really fills out our sound. Above and beyond that, brings Ryan back to the fray in terms of being someone meditating on music and playing music a lot,” Smith said. “And, of course, Tommy’s a really long-term, longtime kind of local O-Town music hero.”
The Yarns’ debut album Break Your Heart dropped in September of 2020, a decidedly difficult time in the world. They recorded at the beloved Dial Back Sound, a place that means so much to the group. “There’s something about just the feeling of the room and the sound,” Pollett said. “They can capture us in a way that, I don’t know if we can be captured that way elsewhere because it’s a live room, it’s a live sound and we get to perform live.”
Playing and recording in Mississippi just feels natural, according to Dolph. “It seems like we just kind of sit around and play like we do in the living room and then it comes out as a record,” he said.
They returned to Dial Back to record their new album It Never Ends, and it’s some of the band’s best work yet. They continued recording with live takes, and you can hear the care and enthusiasm the Yarns put into their work. “I think that is unique. It is unique to be able to go in and record live,” Brown said. “It’s not like we have just individual instruments isolated and playing their part and then it gets mixed together. But it’s really a natural process.”
It Never Ends is a stirring adventure containing intricate instrumentation paired with narrative, story-driven lyrics that will keep you wanting more. The title for the album comes from a chunk of lyrics from the track “Electric Prairie Run,” a standout on the new body of work. “It’s just one of the greatest songs that the band has ever made,” Smith said. “We felt that the album title needed to come from that song because I think it’s going to turn out to be a treasure of a song in Americana more broadly in the United States. And just so far in our band family, I regard it as one of a real jewel of our output so far.”
In addition to their superb craft, the best part about listening to and seeing the Yarns live is their connection. The love and respect these six individuals have for each other is palpable, and it’s a refreshing treat. They love what they do, and love sharing their music with the world.
This feeling is more inspiration behind the new album name. “I think it encapsulates our hopes and aspirations as well, just that it will never end, that we can continue to do this together. But at the same time, it’s looking at the experiences and the trauma that everyone’s dealing with,” Pollet said. “Somehow we feel that this can hopefully resonate with others as well because it seems that it never ends sometimes whether it’s a good time or whether it’s a bad time or what you have. You know it will end. There’s a temporary aspect to it all. But that claim, that just notion that perhaps it doesn’t, maybe it just goes on and goes on and goes on, whether it’s the road or the song or tune or the friendship and the love.”
Check out The Snarlin’ Yarns new album It Never Ends on Monday, Jan 23. If you get the chance to see the Yarns live, do yourself a favor and check them out. You’ll hear them play tracks that will have you up and stomping your feet, along with tracks that will make you contemplate the finer points of love and life. [Ed note: Waiting to hear back from band if they have upcoming shows I can mention]
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