Byline: Thora Hughes
Any frequent listener of KSLU knows our station loves local musicians. Personally, I have taken on the mission of trying to introduce as many local artists on our airwaves as I can during my time here. This is how I stumbled on the album “Anything But Human” by Baton Rouge, LA duo Palomino Darling.
Palomino Darling is comprised of Katie Swetman and Sam Aselmo. The pair write, record, and produce their music in a private home studio. They describe themselves as, “equal partners in the creative process” and their music as, “Rock, the heartbreaking kind.” While I associate their sound more with country and blues kin to Rosanne Cash, I can agree they have a knack for writing a sad song.
“Anything But Human” is an album with a tremendous beginning. “Finish It” hits hard and the balance between vocals versus music is perfection. Katie Swetman’s voice is ethereal and haunting. A different kind of beautiful which sucker punches her audience with each, “Finish it!” From the very first line, “Maybe I’m sick. Maybe I’m asking for it” each lyric is resounding. Sure to linger with a listener even after they have finished the song.
With a first track as notable as “Finish It,” there are expectations for the songs which follow. However, it’s the only track on the album which really speaks for itself. A few of the others; “Car Five”, “Falcon Lake”, and the title track are good, but they don’t carry the same weight as “Finish It.”
After the title song plays ("Anything But Human," track 5), it’s hard to distinguish the next five songs from one another. They have the same uncomfortably slow, sleepy, somber sound. They lack the variety the first five tracks brought to the table. This is most evident in the lyrics as a few of these songs are made up of simply a looping chorus. There are production issues as well that even the untrained ear might be able to pick out.
There are a lot of times in these last five songs where instrumental backtracks drown out the rich vocals of Katie Swetman. In ,“Old and Lost River,” Swetman’s gorgeous voice is almost unrecognizable as it drips with effect after effect over it. Most of the guitar, bass, keyboard, and drum work in the album are technically sound. But there are times where this technical perfection takes on a robotic quality. The most glaring example of this is in “Old and Lost River” when the drums sound almost like a drum machine.
Not every song on an album will be a hit. Artists are lucky if they get one. “Finish It” is the treasure on “Anything But Human.” And despite the issues in the last five tracks there is something exciting about all of it. Palomino Darling’s foundations are strong. The vocals and the music are good. We know they have it in them to come out with some great lyrics. Production issues aside, Palomino Darling has potential that a lot of young bands don’t. Seeing them live is likely an experience to behold. Honestly, it will be interesting to see this band evolve.
Thora Hughes is a junior General Studies major pursuing her undergraduate degree at Southeastern Louisiana University. This jack-of-all-trades is currently the production director and events coordinator at KSLU, but has been known to DJ and assist the Underwriting and Development Director.