[Album Review] The Ruffled Feathers- Hand-Me-Down Centuries
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Release Date: July 28, 2017
Label: Independent
The Ruffled Feathers get more engaging than ever, if for no other reason than the way ‘Hand-Me-Down Centuries’ showcases the amazing range of tone in Gina Loes’ voice. But, of course, there’s much more than that.

For starters there is also Andrew Lee, whose trumpet spurts come at such opportune times. Towards the end of “Le Marche” he heralds in a big band sound and then carries it through. He lends a brassy ‘60s edge to the otherwise contemporary pop song “Strange Dreams”. Speaking of which, this track also features bass player Paolo Brian on one of his few turns at lead vocals, and it’s a delightful change of pace.

Not that the pace set by Loes is one you want to take a break from. Although the music is generally bouncy and bright, Loes’ vocal mood swings wildly. On “Le Marche” there is a wonderful ringing resonance to her sweet voice as she sings baroque pop. But then she can sound real sultry’n’smoky, such as on the bluesy lead-in to “Kiss Me in the Moonlight” — a song that ends up being a cheeky harmony with Lee in a throwback lounge pop tune that is catchy as hell. Her rootsy style comes to the fore on “How Many Days” with her twang matching the americana vibe. She sounds like Neko Case, although somewhat more country even.

Her performance on the mini epic “Sea of Hesitation”, however, tops them all. It starts out slinky and dark with Loes warbling through it like a trip-hop diva. But then comes a fascinating (and quite artsy) passage where she harmonizes strangely with Lee while uttering, It yearns to stay/Fast in my mind with impaired locomotion/Keeps me this way”. Loes hits her stride upon reaching the main chorus with a more forceful, determined voice, although delivered with a lovely edge. When it all comes to a theatrical, dramatic climax (complete with spaghetti western brass) it is all quite well-deserved.

On ‘Hand-Me-Down Centuries’ The Ruffled Feathers are hands-down more varied, unexpected and exciting than ever.