For those unfamiliar with the term, a triptych is a work of art divided into three sections. It also happens to be the main title of The Hard Ground’s latest work. Four months after the release of the first instalment of the ‘Triptych’ trilogy, The Hard Ground unveiled the second piece of their musical puzzle. In a society now plagued by instant musical gratification it is so refreshing to see a band truly value their material by applying such a wonderful concept to the release of their music.
There is a striking level of diversity weaved throughout such a short collection of songs. Melodically driven by the juxtaposing vocals of Marlene Enright and Pat Carey, the four songs that make up ‘Triptych 2’ are elegant and sassy, yet equally edgy and brooding. This seemingly incompatible array of qualities come together with remarkable consistency through the vocal interplay of the two singers.
While harmonies are a fundamental part of the band’s sound, they do not limit themselves to this one form of vocal expression. Against a solid backdrop of atmospheric musical arrangements, the duo incorporate various vocal methods to maximise the contrast between their styles. In Coin Toss a descending scale provides a solid platform for a quirky call and response between them in the verse, which then gives way to a beautifully melodic chorus where the two sing in canon.
Elsewhere these diverse qualities are demonstrated on All In Time, where Enright and Carey share the melody in the verse and break into a melodically enticing call and response in the chorus.
There is very palpable and honest emotion evident throughout the record. The often raw, wrenching quality of Carey’s voice is always tempered by the serene characteristics of Enright’s, and this tonal give and take has the power to maintain a firm grip on the listener’s interest throughout this delightfully colourful EP. With each new release The Hard Ground move that bit closer to the world of the Irish music elite and will have certainly earned a place alongside them.