After a long and productive hibernation, Bear's Den is days away from releasing Red Earth and Pouring Rain, the first album since the amicable departure of Joey Haynes. Part of the album's inspiration comes from the likes of a painting from Edward Hopper, the novels of Raymond Carver, and film director, Robert Altman's Short Cuts.
They may have lost one of their band's founding members, but Bear's Den recently became a six-piece touring unit consisting of original members singer-guitarist, Andrew Davie, and multi-instrumentalist, Kevin Jones. Red Earth and Pouring Rain was recorded at Rockfied Studios in Wales with the bands long-term producer, Ian Grimble. With Joey Haynes absent from the new album, the British-duo took it as an opportunity to evolve the band's sound. Their folk roots are alive and well, but the album features some unexpected, yet classic FM rock influences like Don Henley, Eagles, Dire Straits, and Bruce Springsteen.
"Auld Wives" was the first single released and it's a heart-wrenching track about losing a loved one to dementia. Andrew Davie wrote the song about his grandfather developing Alzheimer's and the heartbreak of once being so close to someone only to have them not recognize you in the end. The track has a dark, edgy vibe with a strong synthetic sound and a perpetual throb that masterly captures Davie's poignant lyrics. "Dew On The Vine" is a similar guitar and drum heavy composition that embodies those aforementioned 70s/80s rock inspirations.
Elsewhere, Davie wrote "Gabriel" on the banjo before embedding it to a synth-sound during a three-week songwriting trip to Holland. It's a track about losing one's sense of self and "Gabriel" is a name for the people who know you better than you know yourself. It's a beautiful tune, both lyrically and melodically, with banjo chords, harmonies and a general sense of warmth. The album's closing track, "Napoleon", is a surprisingly anthemic finale of instruments and earthy vocals...is this really the Bear's Den we've come to know and love?
When Bear's Den had to make a decision of either calling it quits or using Haynes' exit as an opportunity to build a new progressive foundation for the band, they thankfully chose the latter. Red Earth and Pouring Rain is an ambitious next phase in what is apparently an evolutionary sound. As Jones puts it, "A good metaphor for the mood is the idea of driving forwards while looking in your rear-view mirror."
Now Watch an Interview with the Band (including Joey) from the old Baeble Stoop: