A Chorus of Storytellers
For his fifth studio album, James LaValle brought his touring band into the studio for the first time. (His previous albums were all performed solo.) The snowcaps and icy ambient tones are still present (“Perro,” “Blank Pages”) but a strong backbeat and stronger melodies with audible vocals (“There Is a Wind,” “Falling from the Sun,” “We Are,” “Almost There”) practically make this mood-altering group a pop ensemble for a few moments. Recorded just outside Seattle in February 2009 and mixed in Reykjavik, Iceland by Sigur Rós producer Birgir Jon Birgisson, A Chorus of Storytellers features a wide sonic expanse that excels at running in place. “Within Dreams” uses an austere setting with just nibbling rhythms to display the glorious keyboard chords that arrive in waves. “Stand Still” builds the intensity but never disturbs the dreamscape; its keyboards continue to find new pockets to fill. “Until the Last” continues the forward flow with cascading piano notes leading to the hopeful vibe of “We Are.” It’s all quite a meditative journey.