4. The Coventry
11. Three Tigers
12. Stag Hollow Fair
13. Lull Of Celeste
16. A Dimmer Lux
18. Witches Blossom
21. The Motorbike
22. The Pelican
24. Land Of Canoes
25. Theon The Fox
Moving onward, The River Empires came to fruition when Falling Up's Jessy Ribordy and Josh Shroy teamed up with the likes of The Dear Hunter's Casey Crescenzo (What a coincidence—I swear I'm not stalking him) and a collaboration of other talented artists to bring to life this intricate story of two children who stumble upon a cryptic message in a bottle. The band has a sound all its own which combines bluegrass, folk, and indie with soothing vocals, deep-country twang, soundscape, and standard rock instrumentals.
The album begins with and ends with two variations of the soundtrack's theme, The River Empires Theme I and The River Empires Theme II. The first version of the theme starts off with a repetitive, slightly mournful piano melody as a childish, fragmented piano plays in the background. The song then seamlessly transitions into Overture In Thales Summer, where Jessy Ribody's tranquilizing vocals are put on display. The second variation, The River Empires Theme II, starts in the same way as the initial theme but later implements orchestral and surreal instrumentation to close out the album. It appropriately correlates to the album's title as the initial theme evokes speculations of finality; whereas, the second theme is expressive of tranquility and completeness (I try so hard to make sense. It's sometimes painful).
The album is comprised of songs varying in tempos and ranges. A few of the tracks carry a hymn-like atmosphere such as The Coventry and others maintain a soothing atmosphere such as Catacombs And Orchards. Usually these songs are heavy in piano melodies and hold a conservative use of string instruments.
However, there are also purely instrumental tracks which appear as though they signify action including From Faye To Astral and The Pelican, which songs that sound almost sly and mischievous, and The First Message and Wildbriar, which seems suggestive of rapid-paced action or passage of time. Furthermore, there are tracks that the band seemingly uses as playgrounds for experimental sounds, soundscape, and recorded conversations such as Galloping Through Day Blooms, Stag Hollow Fair, and The Woods Of Northland.
The songs which verily bring forth The River Empires' full range of talent are the upbeat songs which sport a heavy bluegrass influence and an indie rock persona. The three best examples of this are A Toast To The Snake King, Three Tigers, and A Dimmer Lux. A Toast To The Snake King isn't at all shy with the amount of twangity twang. It is definitely the most upbeat and fast-paced song on the album, as well. Three Tigers doesn't flaunt the bluegrass influence quite as much as A Toast To The Snake Kin, but that's not to say that it isn't at all apparent. What really sets this song apart from the rest is the band-wide chant that takes place at 2:20. Now, I'm not usually a fan of chants, but this band executes it flawlessly, which is a bizarre claim considering that they emphasize the flaws in the chant (i.e. vocals drawing longer on than expected, varying pitches). Lastly, A Dimmer Lux holds the trophy for the catchiest and most mesmerizing beat. It is, in my opinion, the best track on the album.
Alright, to wrap up this long-winded review, I'll leave you off with a bit of a synopsis. Although I feel as if The River Empires might go a little haywire with the experimental tracks and the album is difficult to interpret in context, the sound is one-of-a-kind. This mix of genre is so original and the band executes it so exquisitely that you'll be doing yourself an injustice not to give it a chance. It may not be for everyone, but I reiterate, it deserves some gosh darn attention.