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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Dan's Pick of the Week: Colours by Ashley Eriksson

     “Come along with me to a town beside the sea / We can wander through the forest and do so as we please,” sings Ashley Eriksson, from her catchy tune, “Island Song”, which any fan of Adventure Time would know and love. As both a solo artist and a member of the band LAKE, Eriksson has gradually made a name for herself in the indie world, especially after recently touring with the band, Mount Eerie, formally known as The Microphones. Now, after several albums, she is returning through K records with a new release, Colours. The album may not be for everyone, but for people who enjoy warm lighthearted sounds with a nostalgic feel, then this is right up their alley.

     Earlier this year I reviewed LAKE’s album, Giving and Receiving, which may have been two years late, but I have an excuse since I only joined the blog at the start of this year. I gave it a thumbs up for several reasons, one being that it combined a light feel to a darker tone, meaning that the songs seemed comforting musically but the lyrics were deep, dark, and sometimes even disturbing. Eli Moore sings about burning flesh off of bones under a melody that sounds like it could be aired on a kids show...evidently they have aired their songs on a kids show. 

     LAKE was easy music to get into, but I could not say the same for Eriksson’s solo work. For the most part the albums were very low quality recording. The songs themselves seemed to be written and arranged very well, but the execution of the music built a wall between Eriksson and the listener. The album, Seasonal Music, first brought me to appreciate her work more. At first glance, it’s nothing more than a 30 minute collection of lo-fi sounds with added harmony and different instruments here and there, but the recurring melodic theme and sentimental feel give the album a whole lot more depth to it. Songs like, “Ode To Melody” and “Rain Now, Red, Blue’” put me in a trance every time. The whole album may sound “fragile”, but it is far from being breakable. There is much originality radiating from Ashley Eriksson’s work. 

     Once I heard about a new solo album from Eriksson that would be released through K records, I was excited, curious, and a bit surprised since LAKE had also announced a new album later this year. I hoped that Colours would have better quality yet still maintain that style that has worked so well with Eriksson. For the most part I can say that the album fulfilled my expectations. It sounds professionally made and has both new and old qualities. 

     One of Ashley Eriksson’s main strengths is writing beautiful piano pieces like the opening track, “March Of The Conch”, which I think does a great job of engaging the listener. I wish, however, that she would have put more of these types of tracks into the album. The only other song similar to this one is “Humming In The Dark”, which reminds me of that Charlie Brown song. I thought some other tracks like “Arguably” and “Organ Magic” lacked originality, but “Bury The House” has an interesting rhythm and sound to it as well as a version of “Mother Nature’s Promise”, originally from LAKE’s Giving And Receiving album. 

     One thing in particular that bothered me throughout the album was the lyrics at times. It seemed like there was supposed to be some meaningful message that was not present enough and still surfaced at the end. I will say that Colours was not strong in that category, but I did enjoy the music very much. Some people may call the tracks sappy, but I thought the songs “Why Are You So Helpless” and the title track were beautiful in both their instrumentation and lyrics. My favorite part of the final track, “Stubborn Eyes Of A Demon”, was the faint whistling of a flute at the very end. I think that one of the album’s biggest strengths was the variation of sounds and melodies that really defined the album’s title, Colours. Overall, this album was a big step forward in Ashley Eriksson’s solo work, and I would definitely like to see more of her releases in the future. 

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