A première for WoNo Magazine blog and for me personally as well. I honestly can't remember ever having heard a pop band from Estonia. Not even when I was on holiday in the country some years back. Having heard the neo-classical work by Arvo Pärt with the revolving bell is as far as I go musically on Estonia. So here I am reviewing Good man down by Ewert and the Two Dragons.
The band stems from the Estonian capitol Tallinn and consists not of three, but four members joined live by a three piece brass band. Ewert Sundja sings, accompanied by guitarist Erki Pärnoja, drummer Kristjan Kallas, and bassist Ivo Etti. Since the release of this album in 2011 the band has been gathering up awards in Estonia and beyond ever since, resulting in a world wide deal on a major label.
Ewert and band follow on the path that Mumford and Sons have paved, but are apart enough to be interesting to people not liking the new folkrock scene. I'm reminded of Elliot Smith quite often also during my sojourn into Good man down. A reminiscence I like more than Mumford c.s. Not all is acoustic on Good man down, but to say that it's the basis of the album, is close enough to the truth. Hand claps are in there a lot too making the rhythm of the album more playful. Estonian hit single and the song giving the album its name is a good example of this as the verses are driven by a muted guitar and hand claps the whole way, till the exuberant, but only by comparison, chorus comes along. The mood of the album is just as stated here. It's restrained, a bit down, with shiny bits, but, as said, only by comparison. The overall feel is one of a distant light in the darkness. The clip to the song, worthwhile watching, is all light. Of course filmed at a järv (lake) as every Estonian seems to have his or her own järv. There so many of them!
It's the subtlety of Good man down which wins me over. The little guitar melodies, concert bells, hand claps and sparse keyboards that are interwoven into the rhythm produced by the acoustic and bass guitar with the drums. The up-tempo of 'Jolene' comes just in time, making the album more various in sound. Ewert and the Two Dragons seem to know how to work dynamics in its favour, making the album more interesting and thus better. The songs are more crafted well then spectacularly good, but that is quite all right. They are all worth while listening to and listening to again, as they invite me to put the record on again and get acquainted better with them. In 'Panda', and here it is again, there is a clear influence of The Moody Blues at its soberest. 'Panda' is a plain, but beautiful song, that shines out on Good man down, holding a definitive promise for the future of this band.
There may be a good man down, Ewert and friends are on the up. This album deserves to be heard and liked, even treasured as it may well be one of the better releases of ... 2011. It's never to late to find out about good music.
You can order Good man down here