A strong rhythm is always thought to be a necessity for a pop band. What is meant by the word “strong” is about as diverse as what is meant by the word pop, and can really only be identified after the fact: you can listen to a rhythm and tell its strong in the same way you can listen to a song and tell it’s pop. Sambassadeur creates a strong rhythm from the get go and doesn’t let up. Migration keeps the acoustic instruments rocking as if on horseback, traveling through the Cumberland Gap at an exhilarating, even dangerous speed. Such is the idea that comes to me when listening to “Subtle Changes.” It is the fact that the rhythm needs no build or denouement, but starts fast and ends so, always lulling me into the race of the song. The song isn’t racing to get anywhere though, not a Sooner heading breakneck for squatting land in the Oklahoma territory. It is racing because it can, for the joy of it maybe, or simply because that’s how it found itself, song starting fast and ending so.
It may be the cover art, but I think of mountain men when I listen to this album. It is also the prevailing acoustic bent of the album that might wind the strings of Appalachian whimsy around my eardrums. Though, this acoustic bent to the album is unbent for track six of the album, “Final Say.” Nonetheless, the rhythm races as before, pushed along with every smash of the drum, now only at the speed of electric guitars, and maybe it is a drum machine, actually.
Not every song on the album is so intent on burning itself out until the end though, but regardless of how much slower these songs are in comparison to other songs, the “strength” of their rhythm pulls them through, and their persistence, maintaining themselves from start to finish, might be part of this strength.
If I had to make an attempt to categorize this “strength,” I might say that it is because of the persistence of the rhythm, never letting go to the speed that the song started with. I grab onto the rhythm at the start, and it’s easy to hang on to. I leap onto the saddle of the stallion blazing a trail through my eardrums and hold onto the Sambassadeur who is holding the reins, knowing that it’ll be a smooth ride, no tricks, no jumps, just straight riding, sprinting through the great plains of silence.