Bartees & The Strange Fruit
Indie | Folk
Pineapple Record Co.
PREMIERE: The racial past is the prologue on the captivating ‘Magic Boy’ by indie folk act Bartees & The Strange Fruit
By Nathan Leigh
December 6, 2017
The ghosts of rural Oklahoma haunt the debut EP from indie folk group Bartees & The Strange Fruit. References to the sundown town of Yukon and the eponymous Strange Fruit fill in the spaces between the lines on this deeply personal debut record. The landscape of guys and their acoustic guitars is strewn with heartbreak, but few artists excel at connecting the personal and the societal as well as Bartees & The Strange Fruit.
A breakup becomes a meditation on the racist history of Bartees’ hometown on the stunning “Going Going” before the ballad evaporates in a wash of noise, like a tape left out in the sun. That curdled nostalgia frequently marks the best tracks on Magic Boy.
On “Little Brother,” Bartees learns to regret playing Lion King with his brother, wishing their relationship could have been different. The album’s biggest highlight comes with the driving “Eat Your Heart Out,” where Bartees and company go full folk punk before collapsing under the weight of their own angst, ceding space to Bartees’ mother, jazz singer Donna Cox. It’s a moment that’s at once haunting, ethereal, pissed off, and hopeful. I’m not really sure how that works, let alone as well as it does, but it does.
“Recording this was a lot fun and I learned a lot about myself tracking this record. I wanted to make sure that the first record I put out was a homage to the people I love from back home and I hope they’re happy to hear these songs. And for people who don’t really know me, I hope you can listen to this and find something you can connect with too. I’m really trying to open my arms up in this record and try some new things in an old way. I hope you catch it and thanks for checking me out.”
Magic Boy comes out December 8th. Look for it on bandcamp.