To fully appreciate Holy Sons latest album for Partisan Records – In The Garden – it's essential to understand Emil Amos, first and foremost, as a songwriter. Holy Sons is, at its core, a deep exploration of melody. Amos explains, "Everything I do on any instrument comes specifically through the prism of singing and pure melodicism...the more focused into melody's fundamental purpose you are, the more you're going to be harnessing the true power of song-craft."
In Holy Sons this means every lyrical hook, each guitar line and piano run stacks, builds and layers almost to the point of complete collapse. Traditional structures like chorus, verse and bridge are rendered obsolete as songs are simply songs by whatever means necessary – direct and emotional brain dumps from Amos to the listener – he takes songs where he wants, whenever he wants to.
Album opener "Robbed and Gifted" expands from a wandering solo acoustic guitar to a fully realized exploded mantra within moments of its brooding start. "Eyes Can See Clearly" is a piano-led ballad that walks the thin line between gorgeous Surf's Up - era Beach Boys and doom-n-gloom late-period Pink Floyd. It's the cover of Del Shannon's lost nugget "It's My Feeling," however, that adds revealing context for the album. The directness and despair of Amos' delivery of the lyrics is bleak, beautiful and disarming.
Lyrically, the songs all work off this model. Brutal truth pairs with stunning arrangements. While Amos digs deep into the 60s and 70s songwriter era for the missing blueprint, In The Garden is an undoubtably contemporary album. While other musicians look back to ape entire songs or sounds as a template, Amos manages to adopt the authentic mindset of a 60s era artist. He manages to channel the creativity, freedom and isolation of a former time, while still sounding fresh and modern.
Working closely with veteran producer John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent, Sonic Youth), In The Garden is Holy Sons in its most potent, crystalline form. The songs that make up the album are Amos' most focused, most detailed and most carefully emotional. It's an efficient and powerful batch of songs that captures peak-era Holy Sons in an ideal studio setting with the perfect producer steering the ship toward a purity of sound and vision that has eluded Amos in the past.