#67 – Down By the Water


Artist – The Decemberists
Album – The King is Dead
Year – 2011
Genre – Folk Rock

“Down By the Water” is a folk rock stomper from indie folk outlet The Decemberists, led by frontman Colin Meloy. This song is quite a bit different from many of their other songs, but let’s dive in a little deeper.

This song has some punch. As soon as it starts, it calls back a great number of Springsteen songs with its powerful drums and harmonica. The instrumentation throughout is solid, featuring a great backing clean guitar riff and that great harmonica pops up here and there. There’s some really cool interplay with an accordion, and of course the drums are the heart and soul of this song and keep it moving at a steady pace with some gusto. It goes to show why this song was nominated for a “Best Rock Song” Grammy.

The vocals are another standout for sure. Meloy’s voice is earnest and just a tad gritty, and his voice blends perfectly with the female harmonies during the chorus. The melody in both verse and chorus are really catchy and fit the song well. It’s a swampy, dark sort of melody, but it entrances you and holds you captive until the song is over. Multiple listens are recommended.

The lyrics here are somewhat cryptic, but I think they talk about the narrator’s experiences as a teen that all sort of revolve around the river and the town where he grew up. It’s a sort of coming of age tale, and I think the lyrics can really resonate with a wide audience.

This is a song with a great melody, powerful instruments, and great songwriting from a band that has earned their stripes in the scene. Fans of that classic folk rock sound should seek this song out. It’s a great swampy song that keeps you in its spell until the finish. This is one not to miss.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to leave a comment and follow me!

One thought on “#67 – Down By the Water

  1. Always awesome when someone else listens to The Decemberists! Check out We Both Go Down Together And The Rake’s Song if you haven’t. What I love about this band is the strangeness and sometimes vulgarity (The Rake’s Song is about a man murdering his children… yikes) of the lyrics mixed with a catchy melody and great harmonies. They give a folky “vintage” feel to their music with the instruments and the singers twangy voice. Good review.

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