Folk music has enjoyed somewhat of a renaissance over the passed five years, but with any genre of music, another period of stagnation could always be around the corner. There have only been a handful of folk artists I have been able to really appreciate over the past year, and that’s disappointing when the Americana and Folk scenes of 2015 have seemed to be thriving. Luckily, there are always some under appreciated diamonds in the rough. The husband and wife duo Lowland Hum has the ability to make anyone fall in love with their music. Is that a pretentious quip? Perhaps. But their self-titled album which has drawn unabashed influence from folk, rock, and North Carolina’s almighty moog has been an absolute pleasure to listen to.
I was a little hesitant with the introduction of the record. “Sunday” establishes a framework that might sound confusing when mentioning folk or rock. Nonetheless, the introduction ends up making complete sense after Daniel and Lauren dive into a very strong first track, “Odell.” The chorus gave me both sonic and lyrical goosebumps worthy of the strongest first impression an album has given me all year. The chorus lyrics will hit you hard and that was the intention:
Through you I see
A mother's love, no room for me"
We’re not even three songs in, and at this point you’re probably feeling all sorts of scotophilic emotions. The next track I was particularly fond of was “Charleston.” (Side Note: You know who lives in Charleston? My childhood hero from Ghostbusters, Bill Murray. The song has nothing to do with Bill Murray of course.) This song is incredibly balanced for all of the semi-extraneous ambient instrumentation going on. That’s really hard to pull off. I’d say the instrument that shines the most here would definitely be the drum arrangement. This tune has a short drum break that will make almost any percussion enthusiast listen over and over and over again (3:08-3:16). The duo relies on repetition here to emphasize most of the lyrics. This should give the listener an ample amount of time to chew on the content, but again, Daniel and Lauren hit you with a pithy chorus that leaves you wanting more even though they gave you the ideal serving size of musical rapture.
I could write a whole review on this album, but to keep this short, I want to talk about the lyrics of, “Morning Meal.” I won’t even begin to speculate on what the song truly means, but the first lyrics are so powerful that it’d be a mistake not to mention them:
“I’m as balanced as a deer
Walking across a frozen pond
Lost when I don’t get my way
I wear red eyes on a carnival ride”
Lowland Hum is exciting for a lot of reasons, but their exotic songwriting and knack for compelling instrumentation should be enough to at the very least pique your interest. If you happen to be anywhere near Jackson tonight (November 13), I highly recommend you attend Lowland Hum’s show at Barefoots Joe on Union University’s campus at 8:00 p.m. See you there!
To learn more about Lowland Hum and to hear their music firsthand, visit their website.
Bo Kitzman is a senior at the University of Memphis' Lambuth Campus. Bo likes music and sports, but playing music is his favorite. You should buy Bo burritos. Bo loves burritos.
Photography provided by Lowland Hum.