Written By: Fletcher Bonin
The nine track project El Guapo by indie folk duo Bearcoon is a compilation of songs originally released as singles, and it totally sounds like it. Each song has a unique character and sound. The alternative duo is comprised of Solange and Andrea, and these two combine for a beautiful bluesy folk sound tinged with southern soul. It’s Jack Johnson meets Neil Young meets the Dixie Chicks. Bearcoon is the songbird we didn’t know we needed. Generally, these are uplifting, feel good jams. But this is not to say that El Guapo is simply background music for your next barbecue. Rather, these are songs wrought with depth and intuition that belies their whimsical spirit.
The first track ‘Cold Steel of the Night’ is spirited and fun, a theme that runs rampant throughout the collective work. The vocals launch skywards on some tracks while harmonizing steadily with the careful plucks of an acoustic guitar on others. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this album is the lyrical genius executed on each song. One great and powerful track where this prowess is showcased is on ‘It’s Just You and Me’, where the vocals call “the stakes are high, but I’m not gambling.” El Guapo is an acoustic masterpiece with steady, heartfelt songs counterbalanced by passionate, gripping ballads. ‘Buffalo’ is a particularly beautiful track. A solitary voice stands out from the guitar, singing “standing on these dark shores and I blindly cast a line, hoping, oh god, maybe this time.” Bearcoon transports us to a world of simple pleasures and violent pains, stories told through pure music and poetic lyrics.
On the track ‘Walk with Me’, Andrea repeats the musical refrain “would you like to walk with me?” To which the listener says yes, of course we would. There is something intangible and mysterious about her voice that I badly want to understand. On the final track off the album, ‘Whiskey’, Bearcoon seems to channel their inner Amy Whinehouse. This song is gritty and real, the perfect ending to an album that is equal parts both. Bearcoon is satisfying a need we didn’t know we had with this latest album. Each track tells a different story and there is something for everyone to relate to, be it through pain, joy or any other emotion you might find on a standard scale. El Guapo is bigger than us, but it is our duty to listen and to try to understand. Two thumbs up, break out those headphones.