Short and Sweet NYC

Blind Pilot: And Then Like Lions

blind-pilotBlind Pilot
And Then Like Lions
(ATO Records)

Despite having a dark name, Portland’s Blind Pilot crafts beautiful, delicate folk music. It’s been five years since their last release, but the band has poured emotion and art into And Then Like Lions. Though loss, both romantic and personal, has informed the lyrics, the songs here sound helplessly positive, as though survival is inevitable. Opening track “Umpqua Rushing” sounds ethereal even as the lyrics capture the devastation of waking up alone after a romance has ended. This imagery of waking up alone is repeated on “Moon at Dawn,” though here frontman Israel Nebeker tries to cling to memories rather than banish them. “Which Side I’m On” captures the feeling of loss and guilt over having made poor choices, but even after stating “I have done wrong,” Nebeker declares, “But that story’s not me/It’s just who I can’t change/And not who I am.” On “Like Lions” the image of the lion is recycled throughout the verses, appearing less like the animal and more like a symbol of hope and strength. The power of Nebeker’s lyrics alone is enough to recommend And Then Like Lions, but the music is also gorgeous. Horns, trumpet, even vibraphone all make an appearance. This is more the orchestral side of folk rather than country, and all of the layering and harmonizing means it is worth multiple listens to untangle the wonder.
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