By Brandon Henry
Crooked Saws’ Mo-Fi is fuzzed-out blues-rock that sounds like Alice ‘n Chains meets a sinister Black Keys. Recorded in an afternoon on an old-school 8-track reel-to-reel, the gritty grooves resonate with spirituality and powerful minimalism. These songs are the sound-track to hot, desolate deserted drives.
Mo-Fi’s sparse grooves and slinky riffs draw you in to songs like “Break Me Down Master,” “Room 414,” and “Desolation Angels.” The songs reflect a hard life, but there is a hint of optimism that shines through, reminding you to stay firm and true to yourself. Some of the strongest lyrics surface in “Get Up Again,” a song sung as a conversation between a father and son about standing up after getting knocked down. Further in to the record, the other acoustic song, “Miracle of Loss” highlights the good that can eventually come out of losing someone or something. There’s a tenderness to the songs that mixes earnest advice with impassioned angst and a welcome change of pace for the listener.
The album’s lone-wolf track, “Death Terror Blues” is a cappella with only a faint hand clap keeping rhythm, recalling the sounds of field hollers. The song conjures an eerie calmness that adds to the powerful sense of desolation running through the record.
While the 15 tracks are infused with the darker side of soul and blues, Mo-Fi never seems to vary its tempo or feel. That is both its strength and weakness. Occasionally the songs blend together, but Crooked Saws do what they do well. The space they create allows the music to form its own environment to live and breath.
Crooked Saws’ Mo-Fi is like a shot of whiskey. It hits hard and then warms your soul. With sonically rich and thematically powerful songs, the album reminds us that when you’re going through hell, you have to keep going until you get to the light on the other side. Mo-fi is dark, distorted blues-rock at its best, an anthem for those who refuse to be defeated.