Album review: Communist Daughter’s ‘Lions & Lambs’ EP
Certain kinds of heartfelt goodbyes come hard, and Johnny Solomon’s was harder than most. He wrote “Soundtrack to the End,” the 2010 debut from his band Communist Daughter, as a farewell to the drug-fueled existence he had been leading, an existence that had helped break up his previous group Friends Like These and landed him in jail. “Soundtrack to the End” was a beautiful album, one that he has said he intended as a sort of eulogy — as much for himself, at the time, as for that lifestyle that many close to him thought he had already kicked.
Instead of letting those songs be his last words, though, Solomon held on. He got clean for real, and started writing tunes that reflected a new outlook. Some of those songs are on “Lions & Lambs,” Communist Daughter’s new EP. Anchored by a reprise of the wrenching “Speed of Sound” from “Soundtrack to the End,” these six tunes mix material he wrote before and after he got sober. It’s a transitional record, as if Solomon is finishing up old business so he can get on with the new.
He starts with the latter, stepping away from the shadow of the past on opener “Ghosts,” a churning rocker with stormy guitars chasing lovely intertwining vocal harmonies Solomon sings with Molly Moore, his fiancée. “Don’t Remember Me” tilts toward the other pole: Solomon strums an acoustic guitar and delivers wistful lyrics tinged with regret: “Don’t remember me,” he sings. “Remember the man I wanted to be.”
The atmospheric guitars and Solomon’s aching falsetto give “City Love” the feel of a Bon Iver track, while “Avery” unfolds into an urgent rocker lightened by the lilting melodies Solomon and Moore sing together. If “Speed of Sound” is the focal point of the EP, “Avery” is the sleeper hit, in its own right and as a tantalizing hint of what is yet to come from Communist Daughter.
— Eric R. Danton