Artist Spotlight

Review: Lowlands, “The Whale”

No Comments 8 March 2015

Review: Lowlands, “The Whale”

“The subtle moments set the tone of this record just as much as the grander, elaborate arrangements. Every detail has been attended to from the first note to the last, and The Whale is an impressive album.”

Artist: Lowlands

Album: The Whale

Genre: Folk Soul / Rock

RIYL: Wilco, The Decemberists, The Local Natives

Lowlands The Whale

The first sounds that invade the silence off Lowlands’ The Whale is a lovely piano / guitar combo laced with frontman Tom Rorem’s clear, strong vocals. “Passionate Soul” kicks off this Seattle quartet’s new release with an almost deceptive calm. It’s about halfway through this track that we get a taste of the edgier harmonies and gloriously unabashed massive symphonic quality that Lowlands brings to the musical table. This is a common thread that continues to run throughout The Whale, and the seven songs that populate this album are soulful but grand.

Let me explain. “Captain” shows off the quirky nature of Lowlands’ style. They utilize the complexity of instrumental arrangements exceedingly well; Rorem’s bandmates Ben Jahn, William Mapp, Steve Miller and Alex Huth more than carry their weight creating melancholic, winding soundscapes that wrap around and underneath Rorem’s sharp vocal lines rounding out complete thoughts and sounds from start to finish with each track. The attention to detail pays off with a dynamic and versatile sound that most closely resembles The Decemberists, but certainly does not imitate or steal from others.  “Captain” may feel slightly unique among this particular set of songs, an homage to seaworthy folk tales of the past, but this type of storytelling never goes out of fashion, and the instrumental breakdown at the end put a smile on my face.

“Hands and Feet” is another strong showing populated with driving piano and guitar lines and Rorem’s vocals that lift this track up to another level. “The King” pulls out an edgier vocal performance and proves to be one of my favorites upon repeated listens. But it’s the title track, and album closer, that gets me the most excited about what’s to come for Lowlands; a dark and twisty tune that shows off all the strengths of the band. As strong as the opening track is, this is a perfect ending to The Whale.

Lowlands’ The Whale is an album that stands out amongst a strong field of Seattle releases the early part of this year.  And they do so with a sound that is evolved and ready for the spotlight. These are players who blend easily and bring out the best in each other. They are completely in sync, putting together a polished and difficult-to-deny infectious sound that shines very brightly. The subtle moments set the tone of this record just as much as the grander, elaborate arrangements. Every detail has been attended to from the first note to the last, and The Whale is an impressive album. Get to know Lowlands, you’ll be thankful you did.


Lowlands website: http://wearelowlands.com/

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