Sometimes being a little bit behind on my stack of CD’s is almost comforting. Certain albums can hit you in certain ways and sometimes your gut will tell you when to listen to something just by looking at it whether you know what it is or not. That was the case this morning. I spent some time thumbing through my always-growing stack of albums to review and ‘In The Valley’ by Twin Lakes caught my attention. I knew nothing about the album other than it had been sitting in my stack for some time but I knew that I had to listen to it this morning. Sometimes I like being behind but when it comes to ‘In The Valley’, I can’t help but kick my own butt a little bit for not listening to this sooner.
The album kicks off with the title track, “‘In The Valley” and I was instantly in love with everything about this album, this group, and just life in general. A little playful, light-hearted and instantly full of passion, I knew this was going to be a new favorite. There’s something so simple about this opening track when you take it at face value, but when you really dig into it, you start knowing all of the intricacies of this band that will come in and out throughout this ten track album. Robert John Baune’s lead vocals are comforting and perfect but are from classic. There’s an interesting element to his voice that I can’t quite put my finger on. Southern drawl, midwest accent. I’m really not quite sure what it is but I loved everything about his voice in this opening track.
Things turn into something a bit more rocking for “Devil Will Comfort For Me”. Robert’s voice keeps me intigued while the instrumentation behind his voice keeps me captivated. The steady and driving drumming make this song feel much quicker than it actually is and before I knew it, the quick-paced rock song was replaced by an almost a capella vocal part as the album moved to “Other People’s Beds”. The stark change in style was, well, stark, but also so fun. The album instantly shifted from a vibe that made you want to sip on a cheap beer while wreaking a little chaos with some friends to an almost old school doo-wop vibe that makes you want to sway to the infectious beat.
The mood instantly changes yet again to something a bit more calming as the album moves to “Walls Between Us”. I struggle to call this song a ballad but that seems to be the closest descriptive word I can reach for on this dreary Saturday morning. The backing vocals somehow combine with Robert’s unique and distinct style in a way that I didn’t think was possible. The swells in this track are a thing of beauty. The entire group shows discipline and restrain giving you exactly what you want and what you would expect while keeping things under control is an almost mesmerizing way.
The calmness continues with “Picking Scabs”. The best word to use to desccibe the beginning of this track would be “beautiful”. Slow and steady but still full of energy, the way the song kicks in out of nowhere is almost startling but in the best possible way. Due to the current state of my love life, this song really hit me hard. The lyrics were what I was feeling and it was a little too real for me but that didn’t stop me from listening to the track a few more times to really take each word in in their entireity. This was the first song where I really noticed the lyrics and it made me really want to go back and analyze the words in the previous tracks. It also made me realize just how great Twin Lakes is because, as a word lady, lyrics are always the first thing I realize but I had been so captivated by the instrumentation and vocal styling that I really hadn’t even paid attention to the actual words yet.
Determined to really dig into the lyrics a bit more, “I Will Not Bury Myself” took over my speakers and any hope of really digging into lyrics was lost due to all of the new instrumental elements this song brought. Starting with a delicate guitar lick followed up with a voice that seemed a bit darker and more somber than the previous songs, I was instantly captivated again by everything except for the lyrics. The introduction of a fiddle and cello seemed to catch me off guard on this song but within just seconds, I started to question why those elements hadn’t been in this album the whole time or had they been there and I just honestly never noticed them?
The mood picks up a little bit for “Loneliness on Furlough” and the playful vibe that I got from “In The Valley” comes back to the forefront for the first couple of seconds on this track before the song kicks up the adrenaline with a powerful little break. Just when you start nodding your head to this rocking beat, things slow down and you come back to Earth for just a second before the energy is pumped back up. Basically, this song is all over the place but in the perfect way. The song structure shouldn’t work so well but it works perfectly somehow making this my favorite song on the album.
“Best of Nights” was another favorite of mine on this album due to the calming nature of it and the almost jazzy beat behind it. Laid back and chill, this is the type of song that would probably be best listened to with a warm cup of coffee in your hand and a warm purring cat on your lap and that’s exactly what I had. The perfect tempo of this song has it hanging in limbo between feeling dragged on or feeling hurried.
“The Sun Always Rises” brings a sense of aggression to this ten song album that was subconsciously there the whole time but never seemed to come out. The vocals become a bit more powerful and the instrumentation becomes a bit harder while still staying true to the almost playful nature of this band. Again with the unexpectd breaks throughout this song and the almost random (in the best possible way) elements that come in and out including an almost operatic vocal part kind of hidden behind some drums, this may be the second to last track on this album but this band still has a lot more to give and this track makes that painfully clear.
Closing out this album is “Solitude” which seems to bring this album full circle and blends nicely back into the opening title track. Although this album is all over the place emotionally due to the lyrics and the peaks and valleys throughout, this track ends the album on an almost optimistic point which makes it the perfect ending to a perfect album.
I’ve been introduced to a lot of amazing bands and musicians through all of these album reviews. Some acts have stuck with me, some have not. Twin Lakes is absolutely one that will stick with me for some time and when this whole virus thing calms down and live music starts again, Twin Lakes is a band that I will absolutely have to see live.
My Favorite Track(s): “in The Valley”; “Loneliness On Furlough”; “Best Of Nights”
For Fans Of: Surprises; Indie-Pop- but not the predictable kind; Cozy Saturday mornings spent with a cup of coffee in your hand and a cat on your lap
Daydream-ability: 7.8 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: Artie laid on the back of the couch with his tail moving to the beat before moving to my lap; Autumn continued to sleep upstairs
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 10 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 4.87 out of 5
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Listen to ‘In The Valley’ Here!
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