Jimmy LaValle started The Album Leaf as a solo studio side project back in 1998. Over the years it developed into a live band project and one of LaValle’s main focuses. The Album Leaf’s additional talent lineup of multi-instrumentalists includes; Matt Resovich playing violin and synths, Brad Lee on bass and trumpet, and Dave LeBleu on drums and synths. Between Waves is the 6th studio album to be released by The Album Leaf.
Between Waves is also the name of the first single of the album. It is a beautiful dark downbeat electronica track that is a good introduction to the sound of this album. The enigmatic lyrical content conjures up some vivid imagery and emotion. One thing that stands out in this track and throughout this album is the seamless blend of synthesiser produced timbres and acoustic instruments. The way in which The Album Leaf blends these seemingly contradictory elements creates a somewhat familiar but other-worldly sound.
You can hear the care that has been taken in each track to create a unique ‘sound sculpture’. The way a track begins does not define or determine how it will develop and end; this makes for a captivating listen. For example, the track Wandering Still starts with quite a rhythmic and ear-pricking synth musical idea but then flows into an ethereal sweeping melodic section where layers of acoustic and synthetic textures ebb.
In Never Far the lyrics are quite cryptic and don’t have a narrative but rather explore a state of mind or a particular concept repeating “always part of you, I’m never far from you”. The melodies tend to stick to a few notes only and hover over the supporting instrumentation. The vocal line, in this instance, is used as a textural device and also give your ear a path to follow, but what is interesting is to listen out for is the rhythmic interplay between the percussive textures below. You could listen to this album over and over and still hear something new each time.
These guys are clearly ‘musicians musicians’ that know what they are doing; the restraint and discipline they demonstrate in crafting their tracks is noteworthy. The track Lost In The Fog features an alluring use of harmony, a swell of sound and employs interesting instrumental technique, for instance the use of tremolo violin softly breezes through in the background without any fuss. This piece of music is pleasantly emotion-stirring.
The Album Leaf have produced a well conceived and cohesive body of music in their latest release Between Waves. It is the kind of album you could keep revisiting and completely lose yourself in each time you hear it.