This is one of those happy moments of discovery – an unknown young band is recommended to you; you listen and you immediately connect with what you hear. Lion’s Den, the debut album from Little Chief is just that – this unsigned band, which only formed in 2013, delivers a stellar, stunning debut. I know people get very irritated with the use of the word “Americana”, but Little Chief, who hail from Fayetteville, Arkansas, has a pure sound that doesn’t strike me as contrived or precious. In a word, their sound is pure. The vocals are filled with sweet harmonies; the lead vocals are on point – working with the emotional pitch of each song – and these songs do range in their emotional spectrum. The acoustic guitars are warm; the cello somber and yet right. I find nothing flawed in this record. It is a beautiful, pastoral, American album in the best possible way.
In no particular order, “North Carolina” is easily my favorite track with its countrified feel, simple brushed drum patterns and “complete” melody – a perfect construction. “Mountain Song” is a wonderful opener; the instrumental passages that lead to the vocals have the feel of a sunrise and the singing immediately made me think of Crosby, Stills and Nash – tight and sweet. “Old Blues” is a sing-along, catchy track while “Brighton Shore” is one of the quieter, more subdued moments. Matt Cooper is a fine singer; his voice fits the needs of each song.
There are not many bands I can think of in recent memory – a few, but not many – who have come up with a debut album that has knocked me back in this manner. This is the kind of album that if they were to do nothing else could always be proud of. Lion’s Den – Little Chief: remember those words. Out now – don’t wait.