‘Boys of Faith’ is a win for indie-folk fans — that’s it

Photo courtesy of Spotify

By Olivia Eiken | Staff Writer

The “Okie boy” refuses to give us any time to miss him.

Less than a month after the release of Zach Bryan’s near-perfect self-titled album, his fans were surprised with an EP titled “Boys of Faith,” featuring folk superstars Noah Kahan and Bon Iver.

The five-track project opens with “Nine Ball” — a song that will feel oddly nostalgic for anyone like me who grew up in a small rural town festered with dive bars. The song follows his usual upbeat mix of rock and folk with lyrics cradled by the familiar sound of a Gibson guitar and a harmonica. “Nine Ball” is a great song on its own, but it renders itself forgettable by standing among Bryan’s extensive catalog of hit records. I give it an 8/10.

“Sarah’s Place” appears to be the fan favorite from the project, with a long sought-after feature from Kahan. The song feels more like something Kahan would have included on his hit album “Stick Season,” with the heavy folk- and roots-style ballad. This song encapsulates the saddening yet freeing feeling of being happy for your ex-lover (or situationship) for moving on to bigger and better things. Truly, it’s a great song. I give it a 9/10.

If you’re someone who is forever yearning for the simplicity of childhood, you should add “Boys of Faith” to your crying playlist. This song made me nostalgic for my childhood friends and want to call them to just check in. The title track features Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, whom I credit for defining the modern folk sound. Vernon is only really heard with his haunting higher harmony throughout the track, but he is still easily recognizable for his signature ability to shape-shift on any song. I rate this song a 10/10, and I think it fits perfectly within the EP and adds a new level to Bryan’s ever-growing discography.

As a fan from the very beginning, it pains me to say that “Deep Satin” is forgettable and sounds like every other song of Bryan’s. It gets a 6/10 from me. I have no further comment at this time.

The EP closes with “Pain, Sweet, Pain,” a previously unreleased song from November 2020. Is it wrong to say I prefer the unreleased version from SoundCloud? Fans love Bryan for his raw, scrappy and unfinished sound, and that seems to be missing from the released version. Aside from that, I adore this song and its message. I rate it a 7/10, only because I will continue to listen to the studio version on SoundCloud.