It’s guaranteed to be a damn good time!” hollers Colby Elswick. It’s a promise well-kept – as the Kind Thieves lead guitarist and vocalist lets loose over a funkadelic guitar, sticky with groove and ambition. The opening track “Children of the Sun” primes the listener for the musical feast that is the band’s most recent studio record. The Shape culls together a vast arrangement of their biggest influences, from Allman Brothers to Pink Floyd, and scatters them across the floor before collecting them up again and blending into Elswick’s bluesy, thunderous rasp.
In context of the record, it might come as a jarring left-hook…
With the smoldering, moody title track, Elswick then proposes this existential question, “Why are we afraid to die?” An electric guitar solo radiates from the fingertips, instilling into the listener that perhaps the answer lies in the soul-shaking music they make. And it’s buried deeper into the record’s rich layers. Or maybe it’s not that serious. In any case, The Shape lingers in the membrane long after the music has stopped and you’ve settled back into reality. “Burn It” squirms with dirty bass and trumpet flecks, whereas “Fire & Flood” trips along with an invigorating breeziness and “No Water” sidewinds with a devilish hiss.
Then, you have “WV Blues,” a hoe-down of a good time, harkening back to the band’s earlier roots of making folk and bluegrass music. “Talking West Virginia blues, all night long / Drink another bottle, we’ll write another song,” sings Elswick over bristling finger-pickin’. In context of the record, it might come as a jarring left-hook, yet within their catalog to-date, it simply makes sense that they’d never forget their home. They are Mountaineers, after all.
Their moniker serves to also ready the listener for the kind tongue in cheek songwriting for which they’ve since become known.
Kind Thieves – also comprised of musicians Drew Shinhearts (bass, vocals), Archibald Johnson (guitar, vocals), Christian Tanzey (keyboard, trumpet), Jordan Furrow (drums, vocals), and Ben Hunt (auxiliary percussion) – originally formed back in the winter of 2013. Their moniker, “a play on being a bunch of nice guys stealing faces and hearts from show to show,” as Elswick tells HashtagWV, serves to also ready the listener for the kind tongue in cheek songwriting for which they’ve since become known.
From the self-deprecating heartache in “The Gentlemen,” found on their 2017 debut Many a Thief, to the more brash “Skatopia” on The Shape, their lyrical playfulness is not a new conceit. Rather, they’ve fine-tuned their wordplay and injected their humor-spun words into a wider range of musical styles (“Jamericana – Y’all-ternative, if you will,” as Elswick describes it) that gives their stories even more heft. “First you skate, then you die,” he twirls, the instruments accelerating into the song’s bold finale.
The Kind Thieves have already demonstrated the sort of instinctual craftsmanship that creates long-standing careers
Only two records to their credit, The Kind Thieves have already demonstrated the sort of instinctual craftsmanship that creates long-standing careers. Whether it’s the electric guitar howling in album ender “Hang Me Up” or the low-ridin’ boil in “String,” The Shape positions the Beckley-based band as a force to be reckoned with. Now, all bets are off as they forge into the new year, with plans to hit the recording studio at the top of 2022.
Upcoming show dates:
Check out their social media pages for ongoing updates.
– Jason Scott, HashtagWV #138. (Dec-Jan 2022). Jason has bylines in Audiofemme, American Songwriter, Paste, PopCrush, Billboard, and many more. Learn more at bsidesbadlands.com.
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