Don’t let the album’s title scare you away from entering the magical world The Ballroom Thieves have constructed with their harmonies, expert violin playing, and unyielding passion. Wielding a tambourine like a sword, each song swells and jerks jauntily, never losing the listener’s attention. With vintage lyrics akin to those of old gospel or protest songs—like in “Bury Me Smiling” when Calin Peters sings, “Bury me smiling / Next to my darling / Bury me deep down / Bury me low”—the Thieves are stealing from the sounds of the old and making them new on A Wolf In The Doorway.

The album has melancholic undertones, with the help of violin on certain tracks. At times, the strings act as a guiding line for the melody, pulling it forward and encouraging the song to move along. But their name is deceptive—The Ballroom Thieves are more suitable for a bonfire than a ballroom.

On “Oars To The Sea,” there’s a belabored rhythm that resonates deep within your bones. It’s a harsher side of the Thieves that showcases the simple, repetitive lyrics and call-and-response choruses that were characteristic of protest music some hundred years ago. But they’ve chosen to spread thick a layer of modernity on “Oars” with heavy-handed electric guitar and vocals on the verge of breaking. It’s an opportunity to break up and revitalize what could otherwise fall into a mundane pattern of otherwise saccharine folk songs.

“Oak” provides a delightfully serene violin instrumental, underscored by subtle cello. They’re not the first folk group to introduce strings into their lineup, but The Ballroom Thieves still have a veritable pride in each of the songs on Wolf.

Few tracks feel out of place, each bursting with carefully structured harmony, violin, and acoustic guitar lines to match. The Ballroom Thieves are like The Head And The Heart in that they craft feel-good indie folk songs that flow almost seamlessly when listened to as a whole album. But where both fall short is in the individuality of the tracks; it can be difficult to recall at exactly which point in the album you are.

Though admirable in its own right, A Wolf In The Doorway is nothing groundbreaking in terms of folk releases. Still, what the band lacks in uniqueness they make up for in conviction. Most artists better convey their passion for what they do in their live performances, but The Ballroom Thieves do a pretty stand-up job sending that message in the studio. All little pigs and music fans should welcome this Wolf with open arms.

Album Review: The Ballroom Thieves – A Wolf In The Doorway
Pros
  • Strong conviction in sound
  • Blends gospel/protest style with new
  • Excellent use of violin
Cons
  • Nothing groundbreaking for folk
  • Style blending can come off harshly
  • Can be monotonous
7Folkin' Awesome

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