Eric Salt & The Electric City – The Hail Mary (2007)

Eric Salt & The Electric City
The Hail Mary

Two minutes and forty seconds into “Open Doorway” from Eric Salt & The Electric City’s album, The Hail Mary, the listener is submerged in a sea of cascading vocal harmonies. It’s the culmination of a three song opening sequence that is thoroughly engaging. “Stand In The Light” kicks things off with its syncopated guitars and snarling vocals while “Pearls” oscillates between the vibrant and ominous. By the time of the final snare hit of “Open Doorway”, it’s hard to imagine any other way Eric and company could have unveiled The Hail Mary.

The record sheds some of its drama with the fourth track, “Never Intended”, complete with Billy Preston-esque electric piano flourishes and light-hearted backing vocals. “Beatle Chord” doesn’t hide its Abbey Road influence in title or style. Throughout the 12 song CD there are hints of Wilco, Elvis Costello, and the occasional guitar line or vocal melody that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Paul Westerberg penned tune. The earnestness of the record would be burdensome if it wasn’t so damn honest.

There’s a high level of musicianship on The Hail Mary. Eric and his crew know when to play fast and loose and when to show some restraint. Vocals go from breathy to biting without ever sounding forced. Denis Saulnier’s drums are clockwork steady yet never lack feel. Layers of guitars all seem to know their place. Nuanced mixes from Ed Valauskas and Rafi Sofer (and Eric himself on “Long Livin’ Life”) tie it all together. The Hail Mary has all of the expected polish and sheen of an album produced by Ed at Q Division.

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