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Gold Connections – Like A Shadow

The second EP release Like a Shadow from Charlottesville, Virginia’s four piece Gold Connections is the band’s first release since May 2018’s full length Popular Fiction. Describing the band’s musical style as “indie rock” is a broad but fitting label for the quartet’s work, but there’s a distinct singer/songwriter level of intimacy contained in front man Will Marsh’s songwriting. Like a Shadow makes a definite impression thanks to its boisterous, robust sound, especially the fat bottom end present in the rockier tracks, and they achieve a ragged but right quality in the EP’s performances certain to seamlessly translate over to live performances. They are an active touring unit logging critical stage time that’s helped them develop both their following and sonic vision; you can hear the results of that experience in each of the EP’s four songs.

The title cut opens the collection. It unfolds in a sparse, lean fashion for the first thirty seconds before Marsh and company amp up the guitar muscle and imbues the song with a mid-tempo raucousness they do not revisit for the remainder of the release. The music for “Like a Shadow” ably embodies its lyrical content; the song’s emotional weather is passionate yet stormy and unsettled. Marsh’s vocal matches that intensity without ever becoming strained and the chorus, in particular, realizes the song’s potential in a dramatic way. The brash rock fireworks sparking off this track, nonetheless, never obscure the solid skeleton underneath the flair and fury; “Like a Shadow” obeys time-tested songwriting fundamentals while still blazing its own path.

“Locust Days” is guitar-centric as well, but eschews the often bulldozing riffage thrown into the title cut in favor of a much statelier gait. Marsh’s voice works effectively in this context as well; he brings the same mix of passion and aching vulnerability to his vocal for “Locust Days” that elevated the earlier title song. There’s a slight hint of what’s to come next on the release with the melodic tiny coloring some of the guitar work, but the truly impressive aspect of this performance for me is the expanded canvas Gold Connections fills with little, if any, difficulty.

The EP’s final two songs share some similarities. There’s an underlying acoustic sound distinguishing both songs, but the last track “Turn” favors this turn in a more overt fashion than its predecessor “Don’t Tell Me Your Dreams”. The personal tumult that fueled the album’s songwriting finds fertile dramatic ground with these tracks and the slight uptempo tilt of “Don’t Tell Me Your Dreams” stands apart even more thanks to the number of low key rave ups peppering the arrangement. The guitars are strong, but they are presented compositionally as elsewhere on Like a Shadow; you aren’t going to encounter any guitar solos in these songs, but you won’t miss them either.

The finale “Turn” relies almost exclusively on its near marching tempo and chugging acoustic guitar. Marsh’s vocals achieve an atmospheric resonance with this closing number that, arguably, rates among his finest vocals yet on any Gold Connections release. There’s an across the board sense of a band elevating its overall game with Like a Shadow. Gold Connections garnered considerable and well deserved praise with their preceding collections, but even a cursory listen to this recording illustrates how Gold Connections are capable of tackling any material and continue to grow with each new outing.

John McCall

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