Sometimes you need a friend to laugh with and sometimes you need a friend to cry with. The two-man band Sinners & Saints, from Charlotte, NC, fits the bill for both. Whether they’re crooning about heartbreak or tearing it up with joyful abandon, you’ll feel happier for having listened. Perry Fowler and Mark Baran infuse their acoustic, country-tinged tunes with compelling harmonies and foot-powered percussion on repurposed drums from an abandoned kit.
Since the band’s formation in 2011, Sinners & Saints has been gathering a following of fans who turn to their whiskey drinking, shit kickin’, sweet loving music for a good time but find something more – an irrepressible optimism even in dark times. We’re all sinners and we’re all saints, and we’re all in it together.
The band has shared the stage up and down the east coast with the likes of Flogging Molly, Shovels and Rope, Robert Earl Keen, Daniel Romano, St Paul & the Broken Bones, SUSTO, Sun Kil Moon, Bombadil, and many others.
Sinners & Saints will be releasing their second full-length album, On The Other Side, in early 2017, in partnership with Silent Uproar Records.
“Sinners and Saints’ debut album Love and Misery is a little slice of Americana heaven. Sounding like the Avett Brothers in their heyday, Sinners and Saints embody what the genre should be. The album is a perfect blend of acoustic guitar, minimalistic percussion, upright bass, great harmonies, and lots and lots of banjo.
While hard to pick favorites, the album’s best tracks lie in the upbeat, foot stomping songs that comprise about half of the album. These include “Recipe,” “The Melody,” “Better Days,” and many other selections. The other side of the album is made up of more laid back tracks that are no less energetic. “Mama,” “Love and Misery,” and “Only You” embody this characteristic and serve as a nice juxtaposition to the rest of the album.
Clearly, the musicianship on this record is exemplary. The bass is played expertly and adds a driving force to the music and the banjo parts are complex, but not so excessive that they sound stereotypically like bluegrass music. Perhaps the most wonderful aspect about the musicianship on this album, though, is the harmonies that are featured on every track. While not necessarily the cleverest harmonies, they are expertly executed and I’m a sucker for a good folk harmony.
All in all, Love and Misery by Sinners and Saints is probably the best folk rock release that I’ve heard this year. The music is expertly performed; the lyrics are interesting, and its upbeat and a lot of fun. I would highly recommend this record.”
— Austin Frank, WLUR
“The group delivers countrified tales of love with twangy harmonies and rootsy instrumentation – harmonica, fiddle, etc… “Stupid Little Songs” is deeply Southern, but contemporary… The harmonies and instrumentation recall early Avett Brothers. “Stupid Little Songs” is marked by the same raw, rugged feel and harmonies that blend well without the singers’ voices all mashing together. You can hear the highs, the lows, and the in-betweens.”
— Courtney Devores, The Charlotte Observer
“The duo is led by singer-songwriter Perry Fowler, whose vocals have just the faintest hint of a more controlled, bluegrass-tinged Daniel Johnston. The trio’s foot-stomping and picking bounces into Avetts territory with one of its latest tracks, “I Don’t Want to Work.” It’s a sweet and catchy love song about staying in bed all day with the object of said affection. The tambourine, strings and harmonies seal the deal, concocting an indie-country sound ripe for crunchy WNCW fans.”
— S. Till, Freetimes
“With Love & Misery, Sinners & Saints singer/guitarist Perry Fowler and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Mark Baran craft an album so rollicking, tuneful and affable that it’s easy to forget just how serious they are.
With sonic signifiers like the good-timey chug of The Faces’ “Ooh La La” and the acoustic blues swing of John Mayall, Love & Misery is a stealth album, wrapping heartsick-yet-hopeful concerns in the elastic snap of rootsy arrangements and in songwriter Fowler’s good humor.
The LP could well be a bookend to the Louvin Brothers’ Tragic Songs of Life, with Fowler’s and Baran’s close-yet-distinct harmonies echoing the Louvins’, coupling soaring sweetness with the twist of a pocket knife. Yet Sinners & Saints’ gorgeously lovelorn songs of loss, transience and transcendence gladly embrace heartbreak as the price of being human.
The Overmountain Men’s Geoff White lends sawing, restless fiddle to several cuts, including the romance-on-the-rebound barn burner “Recipe.” Baran’s ricocheting bass and frowsy barroom trombone take the spotlight on the doo-wop-shaded two-step “Only You,” where the harmonies climb as anxious and angelic as Don and Phil Everly’s.
Fowler’s whirl-pooling guitar propels “Gods and Men,” a tent-revival release of greed and aspiration that finds freedom in the closing line: “This all will fall apart.”
On the forlornly waltzing title cut, Fowler’s vulnerable lament entwines injury and desire, building to the shattering confession, “I love misery.” It’s the kind of emotionally grounded revelation that defines the intuitive spark and beating heart of Love & Misery.”
– Pat Moran, Creative Loafing