Slow Down Baby (The Lumineers, Cleopatra review)

Folk music has a soothing nature to it, it feels like clean soap and a warm basin full of water, like a brown bottle of beer dropped on a hard wood floor, like a summer dress brushing against the wheat fields.

You know what they say right? Music can sooth even the savage beast, and this week’s band is making major efforts to bring you up to their level of newfound sincerity and thoughtfulness.

Let’s take a look-see.

 

 

 

The Lumineers – Cleopatra (White Album)
released April 8, 2016
******** 8/10

CLEOPATRA

The Lumineers are an American folk rock band. Wesley Schultz (lead vocals, guitar), Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion), Neyla Pekarek (vocals, cello), Stelth Ulvang (piano) and Ben Wahamaki (bass) make up the group.

The band initially formed between Fraites and Schultz after Josh Fraites (best friend to Wesley and brother of Jeremiah) died of a drug overdose in 2002. The two began playing together as a way to cope with their loss.

This is their second studio album, which was self-titled and released in 2012. And they have come a long way from both that album and their initial outings – When Fraites and Schultz first started to play together, they had a number of random names, and they did all kinds of songs, from covers and basic hard rock numbers, to acoustic jams, to electronic infused music.

As a fan of the band, who owns that first album, I can tell you that this is a welcome change of pace.

Schultz’ vocals are stronger, seasoned and somehow more supple. If I can use that word. Sleep On The Floor is a good opener, because it reminds you of their range and ability to get a room moving in a slow sway.

But it’s at the second and third tracks that you get excited. Ophelia is a fun and somewhat sad song, while Cleopatra changes the pace ever so slightly. It’s kind of invigorating to listen to and reminds me of their breakout single Ho Hey. That song let the world know that The Lumineers meant business.

Sure they are a fun folk act that you can enjoy drinking whiskey or beer, but that belies the epic scale of their range – they can sing intimately to an entire crowd and no one will get jealous.

Now this is where it gets interesting, the rest of the album shifts to more nuanced efforts with the percussion, ivories and vocals of Schultz. If you’re not careful you might not appreciate the album on a first or second go, and it doesn’t surprise me that some reviews are giving this sophomore LP a 6 or a 7, but I promise you’ll enjoy it more and more as you go.

Yes, it’s more tempered but exploration is what is going to give them future opportunities and ways provide input to the musical landscape. You’ll definitely notice the shift when it happens, but that doesn’t mean it always goes down smooth. Angela is quite solid and represents both the monotony of small-town life and some of the tracks that follow, because some of the other songs do bleed together.

Which is why it’s not perfect. They’re still figuring it out, but so what. Most of the album is good, and sometimes you want an album to slow down on you so you can turn of the lights and get some gentle sleep.

 

 

 

Delicate narratives wrapped in vocals coated with milk and honey are never a bad thing dear readers, and The Lumineers are just warming up and shining a spotlight on their subject matter. Do they know exactly what they want to say just yet? Well, no.

But you can count me among the ever-faithful who will be tuning their radio in and sitting on the rug with some oval-tine and a cookie or two.

But what do you hear when you listen to the Lumineer…s? Comment! Subscribe! Share! Join the conversation creative types, and I’ll see you tomorrow with something theatrical.

Tim!

 

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