Review: The Lonely Forest EP

The Lonely Forest

One of indie-rock’s more interesting acts finally has a label home, thanks to Chris Walla of Death Cab For Cutie, who signed the Lonely Forest to his Trans imprint. But judging from the songs on the band’s latest EP, a tantalizing hint of what’s to come when their latest full-length drops on January 11, 2011, the band would find its audience regardless. Anyone who’s been enjoying the latest music from Band of Horses is going to be hooked from the start, and with Walla backing the group’s work via his label, they’re almost certain to be getting wider exposure than ever — and rightly so!

The Anacortes, Wash., quartet has always been anchored by the addictive vocals of its leader, John Van Deusen, but the whole group comes out to shine on the eponymous EP. Though the most played song may wind up being “Turn Off The Song,” for the mere novelty that the band dares to encourage us to “turn off the song, you can listen to it later, go outside.” If one were to take that advice, however, you’d miss my favorite track, the ethereal “Live Here,” which is the EP’s true stunner. (see below for a free legal download!) A quiet snare march provides beautiful backdrop to echoes of lightly picked guitar, bass and piano that hides just far enough in the background to taunt your ears as you’re sucked into Van Deusen’s addictive melody. The song develops to a crescendo, then lures listeners into a near trance with the repeated tones and a light vocal chant that fades into the stark piano close. It’s a haunting song which will surely inspire repeat listens from the band’s fans.

“Let It Go” also proves to be worthy of a listen, illustrating Van Deusen’s sense of wordplay, building into a chorus that uses the singer’s strong falsetto to create a hook which will stick in your head: “Let it go, dear, and let your worries fall!” he sings, as a wall of guitar greets us with the full strength of the song’s melody.

There’s not a lot of meat on the bones of this EP, which really features only three fully-functioning songs, a short introductory track and then an acoustic version of “Turn Off The Song,” but if what we have here is indicative of the path the band’s taking on Arrows, its third full-length, this is going to be one of those bands worthy of hearing repeatedly during the long winter months most commonly known as the “good music doldrums.” Considering the tendency of the Lonely Forest to write whatever music they feel like writing at the time (case in point: Nuclear Winter, the band’s debut full-length, a space opera concept album about the end of the world), we’re all likely to be in for a real treat come January.

– – – – –

Free Legal Download: The Lonely Forest – “Live Here” (MP3)

And check out this great live video of Van Deusen singing the band’s song “We Sing In Time,” from their sophomore album We Sing The Body Electric! (2009) . . . it’s definitely a keeper.

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