With devilish lyrics and dark melodies, Salvation is a Deep Dark Well (2009) is the perfect match to stormy weather. Alaska natives The Builders and the Butchers use horns and percussion to set themselves apart, and Ryan Sollee (singer/guitarist) has a raw voice that shakes in a howling manner resembling the southern gothic style of the 1950s.
Adapting characteristics from bluegrass, blues, folk, and even a little punk, The Builders and the Butchers create a style that is hauntingly unique. Moving from Alaska to Portland, the group adapted their “rainy day feel” using instruments such as the mandolin, acoustic bass, and non-traditional percussion.
The Builders and the Butchers have a way of incorporating different sounds and genres without being overbearing. The track “The World is a Top” is a street performer-esque song; it’s minimalistic, and the voices and instruments echo as if it was a raw recording. With clear folk influences, the quartet even throws some gospel into the mix, introducing a female singer about halfway through the song.
“Barcelona,” inspired by none other than the beautiful city in Spain, is mandolin heavy and continually references the flag of the city with the lyrics “paint your front door red and white” — it seems to resemble the music of a bull fight.
With lyrics about God and the devil, The Builders use contrast in the majority of the album. The sound of Sollee’s voice ricochets off of the multiple string instruments, creating a beautifully eerie set of stories.