Review by Shannon Shumaker
The Cerny Brothers’ newest release, Sleeping Giant, has everything that it takes to make a strong folk-rock album and then some. Strong, fast paced guitar work, an incredible string section, flawless vocal harmonies and strong lyricism, all peppered with harmonica can all be found in just the first song, promising a monumental release from this band. When the album moves forward, The Cerny Brothers just seem to prove themselves again and again.
“Porch Lights,” the first track on Sleeping Giant, is the perfect teaser of what to expect from this incredible album. The first notes of the song hook you immediately, and the energy only seems to build and build as it progresses. The subtle vocal harmonies are gorgeous, and when the full band comes in, the song just explodes. Then, before you even have a chance to catch your breath, you’re thrown right into “Heart In A Bottle,” a slightly slower, but no less strong second track. The vocal work in “Heart In A Bottle” is simply jaw dropping, particularly in the long notes of the pre-chorus, and the rest of the band just seems to back it up perfectly.
As Sleeping Giant progresses, it is obvious that The Cerny Brothers are not playing it safe. There are no two songs on this album that sound the same, yet somehow, they all flow perfectly together, keeping the overall summery mood of the album throughout every track. The guitar tones are warm, inviting and easy to get lost in, and the fullness of The Cerny Brothers’ sound makes you feel like you’re right there with them, watching them play. The third song, “Nightburn,” feels like a summer driving song, with strong guitar work carrying it along. The following track, “Shaking The Blues” kicks off with harmonica and incredibly strong vocal harmonies similar to that of The Avett Brothers.
Not every single song on Sleeping Giant is a feel-good summer anthem, however. The Cerny Brothers prove that this album is multidimensional with the longing, heartbreaking ballad, “I Want You Tonight.” The storytelling and imagery in the lyricism of this track is some of the strongest on the album, making it impossible not to connect with. While it is one of the slowest songs on the album, “I Want You Tonight” is easily one of the hardest hitting, simply because of the heartfelt lyrical content and beautiful vocal harmonies. And then, immediately following the mellow break in “I Want You Tonight” is the angry, fast paced track, “Middle Of Winter,” starting off with the blunt and almost aggressive line, “Life’s a bitch and it don’t get better/It don’t even matter how hard you try.” “Middle Of Winter” is on the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum from “I Want You Tonight,” but it totally works, keeping listeners on their toes.
As the it progresses, it becomes apparent that there is virtually no weak link in Sleeping Giant. Every song on the album has something that makes it strong, from the beautiful imagery and soul in songs such as “I Want You Tonight” or “Blue Blue Water,” to the high energy and incredible instrumentation on “The Kid,” “Middle Of Winter” or “Porch Lights.” The vocal harmonies are absolutely jaw dropping throughout the entire record, but especially in “Words Like a Rock” and “Tears Always Fall.” The Cerny Brothers then close out Sleeping Giant with the beautiful and emotional final track, “Lonely Seas,” which hosts some of the most incredible vocal work on the album and leaves you with a sense of longing. I mean it when I say that there isn’t one weak aspect of this album, and by the time that “Lonely Seas” fades out, I can guarantee that you’ll be ready to listen to Sleeping Giant all over again.
Listen to "I Want You Tonight," "Middle Of Winter" or "Heart In A Bottle"