- 23 Aug 16
Indie folk reaches dark new depths
It's been five long years since we humble folk-lovers have been blessed with a Blind Pilot album.
Much has changed since the release of their first two records in 2008 and 2011 (3 Rounds and a Sound and We Are The Tide). What began as the duo of Israel Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski has blossomed into a sextuplet (no less) of Nebeker, Dobrowski, Ydstie, Claborn, Kirst and Jorgensen.
The band's size is not the only thing that has changed. With And Then Like Lions, Blind Pilot take a step beyond lighthearted, folksy, summertime listening, delving instead into something deeper, darker and far more powerful. There is force in this music, but there is delicacy too, as songwriter Nebeker explores the concepts of bravery in the face of loss and pain; and redemption. The record's unapologetically raw sound reflects the losses that Nebeker himself faced during the writing of this album, following the breakup of a 13-year relationship, and the loss of his father to cancer.
The opening track 'Umpqua Rushing' is a plaintive, melancholic mediation on grief, Nebeker delivering the lines "Even what I've got isn't worth offering/ If I can't cross the sheets and hold your beat" with a quiet sense of defeat that is just about to break hearts worldwide.
Thankfully, there is a happy ending to this album's story arc, as we reach 'What Is Yet', a dramatic, powerful climax of cathartic violins and trumpets.
And Then Like Lions is a new level for Blind Pilot: sometimes cleansing, sometimes honest, sometimes painful, it is consistently exhilarating.