Thursday, January 16, 2014

Review: Adrianne Lenker - Hours Were The Birds

The singer-songwriter market is overrun with people looking to make a name for themselves in the music world. Not to deny these individuals the creative urges they're feeling, but if one of the two ingredients to this combination doesn't work (Be it the artists singing or poor guitar playing), they usually won't make any sort of impact on the world, exception being their parents who don't have the heart to tell them the music is truly terrible. Diving into Adrianne Lenkers album with this, dare I say, pessimistic outlook of this genre, I breathed a sign of relief upon being greeted with a definitively solid body of work.

Hours Were The Birds moves very well, floating on the strength of her dream-like, but weary sounding vocals alone. Songs like "Gone", which stood out as the highlight for me on the album, never does anything to really try and fool you into thinking it's anything but a simple acoustic song, but what it lacks in that original voice it makes up for in its amazingly catchy chord and song structure. It also proves as one of the more alternative tracks on the album, which really primarily consists of soft indie-rock infused folk songs.

"Indiana" has a Bob Dylan-esque quality about it, striding along on such a soft musical cloud it almost feels like it never takes off in the first place. It definitely plays more on her lyrical strength, but thankfully that's in full supply. "Steamboat" has the feel of a song written on a boat itself, very care-free and adventurous in its approach. Layered vocals playing of a repetitive, but enjoyable guitar riff make the song feel almost otherworldly, much like sailing on a boat feels.

"Snow Song" plays out as a rather somber sounding song, but it never eclipses the joy of listening to it, which, you know, is great when you consider the fact you don't aim to listen to music to feel depressed in the first place (Odd praise, I know, but it has its merits). "Disappear" and "Butterfly" are fine additions to the album, but never really do much to make themselves stand out. It never affects the album as a whole as you can never really expect an album of nothing but hits, can you?

Baring a few minor deviations from the good ("To Violet" and "Lighthouse"), Hours Were The Birds is a very solid album from Adrianne Lenker. Everything is well oiled, played and maintained, and really, what winds up standing out from everything here is her vocals. That's what often separates musicians anyways, true, but they wind up creating an atmosphere of their own to go alongside the song as a whole, creating a surprisingly layered effect for such a tiny sound. I'd tell you other singer-songwriter types out there to take a que from her, but that'd ruin her charm. - Shane

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