Bands or artists that defy genres and just play from the soul have my never-ending respect. Too often artists feel pressured to conform to a specific style or sound while holding back what truly comes from the heart. Red Dirt Skinners don’t hold back, and even though the music might not be my cup of tea, I can nonetheless fully immerse myself in their melodies. With their latest work of art, Under Utopian Skies, you get a full nine-track album with a slow and moody vibe, great for relaxing or getting into a thoughtful zone. I mean, if this album was able to soothe my mind, then it will probably do wonders for the average listener.
Red Dirt Skinners composed of husband and wife Rob and Sarah Skinner, play some really experimental tunes. And when I say experimental, I don’t mean an onslaught of random sounds and strange chord progressions, but a total mash-up of different genres and styles. With both members singing, you get a strong and balanced vocal performance. Rob holds it all down with his strong voice, while Sarah sings those harmonies like she was born for it. She probably was, I think. On most tracks, there’s a guitar and a saxophone, which is very different from what I’m used too, but it was a welcome change. Sarah plays her saxophone like a guitar hero would play a solo; skillfully and full of passion.
My favourite track of this album is without a doubt, “Lay Me Down.” It reminded me of a lullaby a mother would sing to her child to stop him/her from crying, and it had a similar effect on me; only I wasn’t crying (or was I.) The song has a jazzy feel to it, thanks to Sarah’s incredible Saxophone skills. It sounds so clean that at first, I thought I was hearing a string instrument. You get a lot of variety on this album, which is something I always look for. No one wants to listen to the same thing for 40 somewhat minutes. With “An Isolated Episode Of Transient Global Amnesia” you get a more energetic song with a drum beat to help kick things up a notch. Once again, props to Sarah’s saxophone work. I know by now I’m repeating myself, but I really want you guys to understand how awesome it sounds.
We also get a very faithful cover of Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” They play it safe with this cover, not really changing much from the original. I mostly think it was put there to draw a comparison with what is probably one of their strongest influences. If I had to complain about it though, I would have liked it more if that Pink Floyd cover had more improvisation to it instead of just replaying the original faithfully.
Under Utopian Skies is what I would call an emotional record. The lyrics are meaningful and probably based on heartfelt emotions or stories. I base this assumption on the passion I hear when the duo sings, especially on the record-titled track “Under Utopian Skies.” With most folk, the most important part of the music is often lyrics. With Red Dirt Skinners, you get that, but you also get incredibly talented musicians. Set to be released on the 28th of September 2018, I encourage all of you to head out and get this record. Under Utopian Skies is like a soft and soothing boat ride across a beautiful river and you don’t want to miss it!
Written by Johnathan Robinson
*edited by Mike Milito