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Skies I’ve Learned How To Love

Mark Hunter

Whatzup Features Writer

Published August 9, 2018

Heads Up! This article is 4 years old.

When local band elle/the Remnant released Skies I’ve Learned How to Love in January 2018, it must have seemed like a long time coming.

In 2014, the six-piece band had just come off a one-year hiatus and had reformed with a new spirit and a handful of new songs. Over the next four years, they recorded the 12 songs on Skies.

It was worth the wait.

The album, best categorized as indie-folk-Americana, finds Coplin and Armstrong, as well as bandmates Jessica Becker, Edith Coplin, Jen Foster, and Kelsey Schneider, in an adventurous mood. Driven by Armstrong’s propulsive guitar and Coplin’s clear, strong vocals, Skies is a blend of songs inspired by longing, nature, and the dread and ultimate release that comes from the feeling of drowning. Though primarily an acoustic, stringed instrument band — cello, guitars, and violin — Skies kicks off and ends with a pair of piano-based songs.

“Weary Heart” is a gentle song about homesickness with intricate vocal harmonies which, along with Armstrong’s rhythm guitar, help define elle/the Remnant’s strengths as a band. An accordion joins the mix peeking its baffled head in under the piano here and there. “Weary Heart” provides a solid footing for the rest of the record.

The next three songs, “Cry From the Earth,” “”Moon Dance,” and “Wolves,” take their inspiration from nature, with “Wolves” conveying the mystery, wonder, and joy that Mother Earth provides.

Ellen Coplin sings on all songs but “The Lion,” which is sung by Becker. Coplin’s and Becker’s voice are very different but equally strong. The same holds for the other singers in the band, Foster and Schneider. The harmonies created by their unique voices when combined falls under the heading “spine-tingling.”

Several songs reference the Bible’s book of Jonah, always a good source for metaphor and allegory, as literary tools on full display in Armstrong’s poignant lyrics. The final three songs on the album (“The Sea,” “Shipwreck,” and “Deep Blue”) are about drowning. Succumbing to water never sounded so beautifully peaceful.

If Skies I’ve Learned How to Love is any indication of elle/the Remnant’s potential, and I hope it is, good things will continue to pour from this talented sextet.

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