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Big Red Machine – How Long Do You Think It’s Gonna Last?

September 11, 2021

Per Wikipedia: “Big Red Machine is an American indie folk band that began as a collaboration between musicians Aaron Dessner (The National) and Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). The band is named after the nickname for the dominant 1970s Cincinnati Reds baseball teams, which won the 1976 World Series in Dessner’s birth year.” I enjoyed the first album and so I was looking forward to this album.

The first album focused on Vernon as the vocalist. The new album is more of a collaborative effort, featuring guest vocals from: Anaïs Mitchell, Taylor Swift, Fleet Foxes, Ilsey, Naeem, Sharon Van Etten, Lisa Hannigan, Shara Nova, La Force, Ben Howard and This Is the Kit. Dessner provided lead vocals for the first time in his career, on three tracks: “Magnolia,” “Brycie” and “The Ghost of Cincinnati.” Not sure what the reluctance was – he has a nice voice. Despite all the collaborators, The National and Bon Iver vibe is still pretty strong.

I have been a Bon Iver fan since day one. I am late to The National. I have only gotten hooked on one album, 2019’s I Am Easy to Find. I loved Aaron Dessner’s production of Taylor Swift (2020s’ evermore and folklore). Maybe my issue is The National’ vocalist Matt Berninger as I seem to dig Aaron’s non-The National work (and the one The National album I like has lots of guest vocals).

The music is quiet dreamy pop – a nice combination of The National’s indie rock and Bon Iver’s electronica. Aaron and Justin are staying close to their home base for both Big Red Machine albums. I liked the first album, but I like this second album even more with all the guest vocalists. The guest vocals bring Aaron and Vernon to a new place. If you liked the last two Taylor Swift albums, or are a fan of The National and Bon Iver, you will like this album.

From → Music Reviews

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