Friday, August 31, 2012

Album Retrospective: The Album Leaf - In A Safe Place

Album Rating: A
I featured The Album Leaf as Muzik Dizcovery's artist of the day about a month back. However, when talking about my favorite album from them, which is In A Safe Place if the title didn't already give it away, there was more to say about the entire record than I could have possibly listed out in the short article featuring the band. So, I decided to take a look back at the first couple of times I listened to this record, and really draw from both the album itself, as well as the nostalgia I have for it and what it's taken me through, in order to convey why I think this is a really fantastic album, and why it rests so very dear to my heart. In short, In A Safe Place has actually put me in a safe place, giving me a place to retreat from a messy divorce, extended periods of depression, and generally, anything outside that makes me feel out of control.

The first, entwining pair of songs, "Window" and "Thule" (well, I would really rather place them in a set as "Window/Thule" because I feel like "Window" is more of an intro, but that's just me) are incredibly powerful without actually doing that much. "Window" is essentially a lot of synths, airy at first, but lifts itself up to a very bright, bell-tone that honestly sounds like the rising sun looks. It glows that much, and really does feel that warm. And after introducing this warmth, it broadens outwards, to include a violin, glockenspiel, and string bass in order to really drive that heat home. It's a powerful song, and the outro leads to a song that's very laid back, "Thule." The second track on the album opens with the same airy synths as in the beginning of "Window," but with a drum kit gently egging on the tempo a little more. An electric piano provide a fairly stark contrast, but a rounded sound so that it doesn't stick out like an acoustic piano would. It's little things like this, as well as the beautiful melody that's split between each and every instrument involved in this song, that really make these songs for me.

While I can't talk about every song on the record, I can talk about a few of my favorites. The one I really want to drive home is "Over The Pond." The song has a beautiful piano tone that has enough reverb and delay so that every note that's being played sounds like a drip of water, and when the initial note is played, you can almost see the ripples bouncing outwards, so fragile, but so consistent. There are actually words to this song, but they're so difficult to decipher that I'm really inclined to think they're nonsensical words put in there to add to the ambiance of the song. They're sung to the melody of the music, and when you hear them, they're harmonized with one another, to the point where three or four people are singing them, and though you can't hear exactly what's being said, the way they're being sung is a perfect addition to the piano. On the latter half, there are floor drums and held drums being struck by hand, tambourine, glockenspiel, and cello added in when the words cease. This substitution, while doesn't have the same effect as the singers, is powerfully moving, with the cellos dancing around one another and harmonizing with so much going on around them. The sad song they sing is almost tangible, and the emotion caught in my chest every time I listen to this song never lessens.

I don't want to discard the importance of any other tracks on this record simply because I didn't talk about them. They're not unimportant because they weren't mentioned - hell, I'd have a good 10 paragraphs on this page if I knew anyone would read through it in entirety. I just wanted to highlight which songs were the most important for me personally. Each of these songs gave me something that I could lose myself in when I needed it most, and still doesn't fail to provide that today. It's a moving album, and a beautiful piece of work that may have been lost in releases by bigger indie acts, like Modest Mouse's Good News For People Who Love Bad News or Owen's I Do Perceive. However, it still has a big place in my heart musically, and sometimes, I still let it put me to sleep at night, just because there's a heavy dosage of nostalgia there. And that's important, because I really think that's a large part of my emotion towards this album: it's been there for me throughout the years, and I've been able to constantly go back to it and look at it - and myself - and see a light at the end of the tunnel, some hope that I needed to pull me through a tough time, and I'd find it, again and again.

The Album Leaf is on MySpace and Facebook, but I'd recommend actually getting the album somehow. Just to experience what I did, for yourself.

Track Listing:
01) Window
02) Thule
03) On Your Way
04) TwentyTwoFourteen
05) The Outer Banks
06) Over The Pond
07) Another Day (Revisited)
08) Streamside
09) Eastern Glow
10) Moss Mountain Town

1 comment:

  1. "
    hell, I'd have a good 10 paragraphs on this page if I knew anyone would read through it in entirety" - Just know that there is at least one other human that feels similar in the way that you do towards this album. It got me through an LDS mission, if that means anything to you, and holds an enormous amount of nostalgia for me as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings on a wonderful record.