Skies I've Learned How To Love
August 9, 2018
When local band elle/the Remnant released Skies Iâve 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 Armstrongâs propulsive guitar and Coplinâs 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 â cello, guitars, and violin â Skies kicks off and ends with a pair of piano-based songs.
âWeary Heartâ is a gentle song about homesickness with intricate vocal harmonies which, along with Armstrongâs rhythm guitar, help define elle/the Remnantâs strengths as a band. An accordion joins the mix peeking its baffled head in under the piano here and there. âWeary Heartâ provides a solid footing for the rest of the record.
The next three songs, âCry From the Earth,â ââMoon Dance,â and âWolves,â take their inspiration from nature, with âWolvesâ conveying the mystery, wonder, and joy that Mother Earth provides.
Ellen Coplin sings on all songs but âThe Lion,â which is sung by Becker. Coplinâs and Beckerâs 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 âspine-tingling.â
Several songs reference the Bibleâs book of Jonah, always a good source for metaphor and allegory, as literary tools on full display in Armstrongâs poignant lyrics. The final three songs on the album (âThe Sea,â âShipwreck,â and âDeep Blueâ) are about drowning. Succumbing to water never sounded so beautifully peaceful.
If Skies Iâve Learned How to Love is any indication of elle/the Remnantâs potential, and I hope it is, good things will continue to pour from this talented sextet.
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