Prior to their monumental sophomore record Dirt, Alice In Chains released this five track acoustic EP which I had previously glossed over. Reviving Sap to my playlist, It took me a few spins to get past the change in temperament. Then I found another charm this group possess, a side of them not felt from the acoustic compliment that creeps into their dominantly heavy music. In stripping back the distortion guitars, their Grunge and Groove Metal energy leaves a void filled by a range of influences. Folk, Blues Rock and Country all have leanings on these traditional, acoustic guitar led song styles, blossoming into a different and simply indulgent experience.
Its opening track Brother is almost unrecognizable. I believe it is Staley singing with a soft casual, breathy persona, a polar shift from his normally electric out-poor. Guest vocalist Ann Wilson of Heart harmonizes in a higher octave on the chorus for another unexpected spice. In getting familiar with it, a warm and tender song of sombre acceptance emerges and that emotional reverence flows onward. I believe Ann returns again on Am I Inside. Her small roll adds a keen flavor, much like the bright piano that creeps in under the haunting guitar. Aligned with shimmers of cymbals and brief bongo patters it speaks volumes to their musical ability and inspiration.
The bass guitar lays down some deep, warm rumblings to thicken out these sombre acoustic strokes. It gets a gritty pump of groove going on Got Me Wrong, the only track to deploy distortion guitars. In a strange way you can hear them being pulled back to the more expectant sound but the two styles just pull the slider back and forth, rather than gelling into something bigger. The last track is a joke track of skits, goofs and gaffs with comical musical arrangements. Its quite fun and a peek into a less serious side of the musicians, a nice something to throw in at the end.
Favorite Tracks: Brother, Am I Inside