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The Album Leaf - In A Safe Place


Review: Jack Foley

CONTAINED within the sleeve notes of The Album Leaf's latest long-player is the question, 'so just how did a native of San Diego, virtually unknown outside of America, end up recording an album of graceful and haunting beauty with members of Sigur Ros and Mum in the wilds of Iceland?'

The answer is quite expansive, but no matter. The important thing is that the artist in question, Jimmy Lavelle, made it, for this majestic long-player is a true gem, just waiting to be discovered.

Achingly beautiful, and often tear-inducingly sad, Lavelle and cohorts have created a truly beguiling masterpiece that is perfect just to sit back and listen to, while dreaming of whatever comes to mind.

In A Safe Place is a mesmerising listen from start to finish, from the slow-building opening strains of window, through to the heady finale that represents the nine-minute Moss Mountain Town.

Lavelle's work has always been profoundly affected by his environment, but he could never have predicted the ways in which Iceland's cold beauty would glacially shape his slow-burning, hypnotic soundscapes.

"I felt like I was on Mars," states the 'sound scientist'.

Free from the distractions of Californian life, and using the help of cellists, percussionists, pianists and violinists from both Sigor Ros and Mum, Lavelle has crafted a sweeping, surreal soundscape that is every bit as breath-taking as some of the landscapes which inspired it.

And tracks blend together with an effortless ease, never once interrupting the flow, or the enjoyment of the listen.

The beat which kicks in to mark the start of the upbeat Thule is perfectly weighted to follow the pensive Window, while the ticking clocks of On Your Way give way to a perfectly-realised piece of guitar which is, once again, gradually backed by an under-stated beat, and, most surprisingly, some rare vocals.

The superlatives come thick and fast...

The Outer Banks, with its tingling pianos and driving beat, is another compelling moment - the type of which could easily find its way onto a movie soundtrack.

While the comforting piano strains of Over The Pond are as quietly uplifting as they are heart-breakingly sad.

I cannot remember the last time an album so profoundly moved me, such is the magical beauty of the music contained within.

Please, please, please, allow yourself to be captivated by it.

 

Track listing:
1. Window
2. Thule
3. On Your Way
4. Twentytwofourteen
5. The Outer Banks
6. Over The Pond
7. Another Day
8. Streamside
9. Eastern Glow
10. Moss Mountain Town

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