There is a quiet beauty that runs through every album by this band but, the strong foundations that support this new release make this beauty sing more clearly and reveal itself with more confidence and power. With Tony Dekker's wistful vocals and the vast musical country-folk arrangements they create visions of endless landscapes rolling out before you in various seasonal warmth or chill.
Their previous work has tended to concentrate on the latter but I am overjoyed to see the sunshine streaming in on much of Lost Channels. Like Fleet Foxes, or My Morning Jacket it's the vocals that do most of the work in summoning up these epic spacial visions and Dekker only has to breath before this fills your mind's eye. But the warmth that accompanies these visions is what makes this record stand out from the others and turn it into a delight from start to finish. Songs like opener Palmistry, Pulling A Line and Still rely on strum-heavy rhythms that take the listener on a soaring flight of pure majesty while She Comes To Me In Dreams, probably the gutsiest track here, breaks this renewed briskness with pounding drums that bust open the back end of this song revealing a cavernous and monumental hidden space.
As well as all this you've got your expected chill that snakes in and out of this warmth. Much of Ongiara dwelt on this aspect of Dekker's voice, lush strings and gentle guitar waft effortlessly along as his feather-light vocals coax tars from each song. Concrete Heart and Stealing Tomorrow are two fine examples of the power of this voice. But it's this contrast, warmth and chill, light and dark, that really makes Lost Channels the album that raises this band to another level. Shearwater did it with Palo Santo and they've never been the same since. Great Lake Swimmers have proved with this record that while picking up the pace slightly and letting the sunshine in they sacrifice none of the spellbinding beauty and ghostly ambiguity that define their work.
11th May 2009 - Tumblr3.5
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