Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Ben Schneider is the calypso-rock-Voodoo-poet-Atlas behind Lord Huron, seemingly bearing the weight of the world on his shoulders. In 2010, I took their single "Mighty" and ran. I was pleasantly obsessed and assuaged by the tropical sounds and soothing sentiments Schneider delivered on Lord Huron's debut EPs "Into The Sun" and "Mighty." As Lonesome Dreams teasers began to appear this summer, they led me to believe that: A) Schneider and his band were reading my mind and making exactly the record I wanted, and B) It would be one of the most incredible things I would hear in a long, long time.
When I received my review copy last month, I nearly started a Footloose-style dance party at my desk. Here we were, just me and my most anticipated album of the past couple years.
Setting the wheels in motion is "Ends of the Earth," a song befitting the opening scene of a spaghetti western directed by David Lynch. We befriend the narrator as he awakes from an epiphanic dream. He's a restless romantic aiming to manifest his destiny out West, and together we sprint alongside the spirited getaway train that is "Time to Run." Now that the narrative has been established, we catch our breath with the title track and reflect on the lonesome road that has led us far from home. The solitary harmonica introduces us to "The Ghost on The Shore," a haunting, gorgeous elegy to all that we left behind, all that Schneider once knew growing up on Lake Huron. This is Lord Huron's origin story: "Die if I must, let my bones turn to dust, I'm the lord of the lake, and I don't want to leave it." (I cry almost every time I listen to this song.) The fullness in Schneider's voice is accompanied by an acoustic guitar to gently carry us away from the edge and reinvigorate our souls with my favorite track on the record, "She Lit A Fire."
Schneider's is a treacherous quest that tests his resolve. We journey onward with him, in and out of consciousness. The music matches our emotions that roll up and down with conviction ("I Will Be Back One Day"), playful optimism ("The Man Who Lives Forever") and suspicion ("The Stranger"). Maybe it would be better to fall back to sleep, the dreamer laments, since our troubles won't find us there... Or will they?
Beside Schneider's lyrical portraits of adventure, heartache and regret is Mark Barry's impressive percussion churning, finding us at every turn and reminding us to remain present. Nowhere else do the band's talents flourish as much as they do on "In The Wind," an excellent representation of the record as a whole with its watery guitar, cymbal crashes and lush harmonies delivering impassioned verses.
After their show in Nashville last week, I tried articulating just how deep and inexplicable my connection is to their soundscapes. All I managed was gibberish about wanting to scream and cry simultaneously, but Ben was touched. He's a soft-spoken man, impossibly old soul, poet, artist (he makes all the band's pretty pictures), lover, dreamer. Listen to Lonesome Dreams, then thank and embrace the universe for it.
Buy it HERE.