Sometimes it takes a while for a band to really take root and find their feet as artists; getting into one’s own groove is never easy and on this new album, the fourth offering from Charlottesville, Virginia’s Lowland Hum have – it seems – absolutely found themselves. The duo of Daniel and Lauren Goans have delivered a collection of eleven low-key and yet mesmerizing songs. Stripped down, simple and eloquent with some of the sweetest harmonies this side of The Mamas & The Papas (listen and you’ll know what I mean). Self-produced and recorded at Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium, it sounds magnificent.
Starting with the unquestionably lovely “Palm Lines”, you cannot help but feel warmed by the performance; an acoustic guitar, two voices and yet a richness that goes beyond the arrangement – and the soft breathiness of Lauren Goans voice is extremely moving; “Adonai” is filled with tasteful finger-picking and again, Lauren Goans’ emotive vocals. Here, Daniel Goans takes the lead on various verses and what sounds like an angelic background harmony gives this song greater strength with its dynamics; “Family Tree” is driven by Ms. Goans’ self-harmony, a subtle piano (at least it sounds like a piano) embellishment mixed in with the acoustic guitar and is certainly a vocal tour-de-force.
“Folder Flowers” is quietly melancholic and the vocals sung by the Goans alternate between both taking lead and then going into harmony; the melody is exquisite and is easily the album’s high point with a gentle guitar line that arcs (listen for it). “Thin Places” has a nice, almost Tim Buckley feel with its slightly obtuse jazz leanings and ponderous lyrics (“…a million time a second/glitter on the bay…”); this is Mr. Goans’ spotlight moment and “Yesterday Is Forever” is a much more traditional “lament” of sorts with perfect (and slightly dark, by virtue of the arrangement) harmonies.
I noted that many of the lyrics have a religious feel/theme (“Adonai”, most obviously). Usually, I tend to shy away from these types of songs or performances, but this album is so rich and warm that I look at it as a universally spiritual message as opposed to being a Christian-based act. It does work as being for all. And Daniel and Lauren Goans have made this album work on every level. “Lowland Hum” is a very apt name for their act. And it’s one you should set your sights on.
Thin is available now