Symphonic Spanish folk.
Tim Crabtree, the man behind Paper Beats Scissors released a fantastic album in 2019 called ‘Parallel Lines‘. I loved it but discovered the album mid last year so wasn’t able to place it in my 2019 albums of the year lists. ‘La Mitad’ is a Spanish translation of that album. It takes eight of the tracks and recreates the symphonic folk album with Spanish power ballad flair.
The music itself is largely unchanged as Paper Beats Scissors contains Tim with his guitar, a string quartet and a French horn. Where the music does change slightly is in the subtle workings of switching English lyrics to Spanish ones. Some of the backing vocals are arranged a little differently and words are stressed at different times. What it shows is just how strong the melodies and emotions are in the original music as you can take either version and power folk your way to tears and drama. The track order is different too.
If you haven’t experienced Paper Beats Scissors before then you are in for a treat. Taking a soft falsetto voice, Tim gently swoons over the top of swaying guitars, drums and strings in a light and fluffy way. Then as each track grows, the strings swell and usually a song ends up breaking into an emotional purge of big notes and climactic moments. It is the kind of folk that an indie rom-com or drama would use as a closing credit or a ‘painful montage’ scene. Pieces like opener ‘Formas’ really play on that drama to superb effect.
Not all tracks go for the jugular emotionally though. Closer ‘Todo Sabemos’ plays with the other end of Paper Beats Scissors indie-folk spectrum. Here, its about the power of the monotone. A lot of instruments march forward on similar notes of chords and it is left to just the voice or small motifs to drive home the emotion. Even here, these tracks build in tense emotion as the electric guitars growl increases over time or the strings spread out. Paper Beats Scissors definitely knows the formula for indie-folk success.
Ultimately, ‘La Mitad’ is a tricky sell if English is your native language. I’d therefore switch the score to his 2019 album ‘Parallel Lines’ and say buy that instead. If you are Spanish then this is the prime time to jump aboard the folk-hype-train. It may take a couple of listens to click but it absolutely will. There is a strong force behind each song that drives it forward to make each piece heart-wrenching. Now you can choose which language you’d like to cry in.
Recommended track: Todo Sabemos
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