Mates of State's music isn't the stuff of unplugged busking in subway stations, or of singing listeners to sleep. It's big, broad and bold — voices shouting in unison over arrangements that swell and billow. In short, it may be too expansive to fit behind Bob Boilen's desk, let alone find an appropriate showcase at noontime on a fall day with lots of natural light.
Muted to a fraction of their usual volume, the four musicians here — playing a synthesizer, a drum, a trumpet and a guitar — strained to find the proper balance between quiet and loud, with leaders Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel singing in unison and trying to split the difference between whispers and screams. Something about the way these players form a small circle, about the way they perform into each other rather than letting their songs unfurl out into the audience, creates a vibe of ragged, awkward intimacy.
Taken as a whole, Mates of State's 10-minute set here might seem a little... small. But the modesty of the performance both suits and complements a band whose music is about generosity of spirit, forgiveness of failing, and the celebration of all things hard-won enough to be worth celebrating.
- "My Only Offer"
Michael Katzif (cameras); edited by Bob Boilen; audio by Neil Tevault; photo by Mallory Benedict/NPR