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The Album Leaf | Into the Blue Again | review | alternative | Lollipop

The Album Leaf

Into the Blue Again (Sub Pop)
by Tim Den

To say that The Album Leaf's last record, In a Safe Place, has become a huge part of my psyche would be an understatement. In the midst of living in a brand new city with no friends and the penetrating winter upon my bones, In a Safe Place somehow comforted, wept alongside, and supported me. Strange how music can be capable of such immense power, eh? It has since become inseparable from my love of this fair city of Chicago, as well as a symbol of hope and renewal in my life. So, you could say I was fairly looking forward to Into the Blue Again. Just a little. I was also a bit scared that Mr. Lavalle wouldn't match his masterpiece. What if In a Safe Place was a fluke?

Within the first minute of opener "The Light," all my fears and doubts were vanquished. Similar to the way "Window" built up the beginning of In a Safe Place, "The Light" gradually layers simple, elegant, stately melodies atop one another until a beautiful mini-orchestra is virtually built. The warm chord progression unfurling into a lazy sunrise, aaaahhhh, 'tis heavenly. The rest of the album doesn't stray too far from The Album Leaf's M.O.: Compact with stop-motion note ascends and descends, yearning string arrangements, touching Rhodes runs, some acoustic guitars, and a slightly more prominent vocal presence from Lavalle. Some might question why it took six months of recording for Lavalle to return with an album that doesn't differentiate itself much from his past works, but I for one don't care. Into the Blue Again is everything The Album Leaf's fans love and have come to expect: A healing, life-affirming power that emanates through every sound, hook, and beat.


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