Three years ago Scattered Melodies released their Summer Sampler EP as a fundraiser to cover the cost of recording their second full-length album, Modern Repair. Well, this community-minded crew are back at it again with Acoustics, Vol. 1, which is a three-song quickie serving a similar purpose, and a Vol. 2 is already in the works. It’s the core Scattered Melodies crew of Jake Johnston (bass, mandolin, percussion), Josh Montag (drums, percussion, organ), Jack Howell (acoustic guitar, vocals, mandolin, banjo) and the lustrous vocals of Laura Hamlin and Haley Grigatis.
The Summer Sampler EP seemed like a pivotal release for the band, and it’s where this particular crew really seemed to come together for the first time. This may be the reason why two of the three songs here are acoustic versions of originals from that record. The opener hails from their first album, though, and this version of “Djamgo Mando” blows my mind every time I hear it, with Howell’s banjo and Hamlin’s lyric-less vocals competing for my aural attention.
“The Jury’s Out” was the first time I ever heard Jack Howell, back in 2014, and I was stunned. Well, Howell maintains that feel with the stripped-down version. It still rocks, but there’s even more warmth, which is ideal for a band that invites hugs from your soul. Of all the tracks, “Desert Drive” may be the best here because of the way Howell, Hamlin and Gregatis’ vocals combine into the sweetest harmonies heard this side of Laurel Canyon 1972. This song feels more like a desert drive than the original. My best advice is to pick this up or check it out on Spotify and then eagerly await Vol. 2 and the full-length to follow.