Bear’s Den released their debut album Islands in October of 2014 and left fans waiting almost two years for their second release. They now return with their second record Red Earth And Pouring Rain, the title chosen thanks to the Vikram Chandra poem read by lead-singer Andrew Davie. With such a beautiful title itself, and the incredible reaction they received after the release of Islands, this next album was something fans were excited for and it is not a disappointment.
The album opens with lead track Red Earth And Pouring Rain, a song that explores the story of a lost relationship that is still wanted. The story-like lyrics of Bear’s Den are somewhat poetic in their delivery. ‘Can’t you hear in the silence / Can’t you hear me calling out your name / I’ve got something burning, coursing through these cold veins’. These lyrics open the song that is juxtaposed with the new and synthesized sounds of Bear’s Den, after the departure of the banjo and Joey who came with it. Even though they were known for the banjos, this song does not need it and therefore allows them to develop on the much-loved new sound. The chorus is catchy, therefore making it an instinctively memorable song. ‘Don’t you remember love, remember love / Remember anything / Just you and I love, in the red earth and the pouring rain.’ The song itself delivers an incredible start to the album, with the hopes of it continuing.
Emeralds and Dew On The Vine both follow, showing an upbeat and alternative folk sound. The layers of instruments and the addition of electric guitars allow these songs to deliver a rocky vibe. It does feel that the banjo is missing at times, yet these songs still do not disappoint. Both songs again deliver to the expectations that is thought of from Bear’s Den. This is then followed by a personal favourite song on the album, with Roses On A Breeze. The song starts with exceptional production and the atmospheric use of an oil tank. This creates a haunting start only to be followed with the beautiful vocals of Davie. The bridge in this song shows the romantic nature within this story, ‘All that fear in my heart I couldn’t let you see / You’d ought to know / Somewhere deep down you know I still believe / That you’ll always be / The love of my life’. What is perfect about this song is that this is a true love song and not your stereotypical romantic ballad.
New Jerusalem is the next track which starts off with the slow melodic sounds that are heard within their debut album Islands. For anyone who misses the banjo from the start of the album, this song brings the banjo back. The splendour of this track lies within the reminiscent sounds from Elysium. The soft production that lies within the echoing of a trumpet, allows for the banjo to take full lead when it enters the song. Picking up the melancholic sounds this works perfectly and is personally one of the most emotional songs on this incredible album. Again the production is spot on, showing that the band and their team must have worked exceptionally together and known what works. This is evident in the following track Auld Wives which takes you away from the nostalgic sounds and places you in the middle of this new sound. Auld Wives themselves are rocks in Scotland that have faces carved into them, with Andrew Davie himself quoted as saying ‘no one knows how they got there…there’s all sorts of folk tales around them’. This song itself has a personal connection to Davie and allows him to express his feelings in the form of songwriting with the personification of the folk tales.
The album carries on showcasing the wonderful ability the band themselves have for making amazing albums and songs. The production is spot on, allowing the vocals and therefore the lyrics to be the main focus and the metaphorical poetic aspects of their ability as a band to really stand out. This album shows that the relationship between Kev and Davie is as strong as ever and allows them to skip that dreaded second album nightmare. Even though Islands will always hold a spot in my heart, Red Earth And Pouring Rain has delivered perfectly. This album will be one that will stay with many for a long time.