Of the thousands of new songs that have come across my desk in the past few months, few have been so surprisingly grand as The Family Crest‘s newest track, “The Mighty Echo,” and few have moved me so immediately. The track opens with pulsing piano and singer Liam McCormick’s clear-toned vocals before exploding into a perfectly realized expression of the oft-misused “baroque folk” moniker.
Deliciously musical (for theory geeks, the song trades 3/4 and 5/4 bars throughout most of the song), “The Mighty Echo” has a context. Its forthcoming album titled War: Act I, is an opus. From its opening number, “To Love You,” one gets the feeling that this album is something special, something that will have a larger life than could have been imagined by its writers.
McCormick says the album — and indeed one hears it in every pounding note — is about conflict, the carried traumas that influence daily decisions, and the complexity of human nature. It calls to mind the theatrical intensity of modern musicals á la Hamilton and Hedwig, the orchestrated pop of Arcade Fire, and vocal acrobatics reminiscent of the Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. It has strings, horns, woodwinds, synthesizers, a choir, exquisite drumming, (the band estimates that 55 instruments are used on “The Mighty Echo” alone), influences across a dozen musical cultures. It is truly epic, a word I do not use often or lightly.
McCormick says the seeds of THE WAR (the full musical saga, including 2017’s single “Prelude to War” abd perhaps additional releases to come) were planted long ago, as far back as their earliest work. “In a weird way,” he says, “THE WAR has existed for the entirety of the band. It’s been in my head for so long. It’s almost been like a goal — something we’ve been looking at and hoping we could actually do.” Now they have.
We’re excited to premiere “Mighty Echo” today. About it, McCormick says:
“”The Mighty Echo” is a song about absolute loss. That moment at the end of a relationship when you know that you will never ever have that person in your life again. I’ve always had this image in my head throughout the existence of this song of flying over a large, brightly lit city, at night. You’re looking for one person in this massive scene and imagining all of the millions of people down below, you realize that finding one person in this mass will be impossible. The huge city might as well be an empty void. You fly faster, frantically searching the ground below, crying the name of the person that you’re looking for, but you’re so high up that no one below can hear you You realize that it’s over and you give up.”
The album will be out April 6, and you should absolutely catch them at Great American Music Hall on Thursday April 12, because no doubt the only thing better than this album is this album live.