Welcome to Boss Ladies, a blog series dedicated entirely toward featuring and promoting our talented Lady Brian Members and their creative work. Keeping with our mission of collaboration and service, each article in this series is written by a member about a member. We encourage you to discover and support not only the subject of each review, but also the writer! This week, Jules Stewart reviews Blue Space, the latest EP from Golden Howl (featuring Lady Brain members Marlo Smith and Rachel Riba).
It’s often difficult to appreciate the depth of another person’s experience, to empathize with the extent of either their joy or sorrow. But Golden Howl’s latest EP Blue Space envelops listeners in a whirlwind of emotion, from awe to heartbreak, rolling out an invitation into the band’s heart. The second project from the band in the three years since they formed, Blue Space is a collection of richly-crafted soundscapes that raises an already high bar set by the band’s first EP, Mighty Mighty.
Blue Space starts triumphantly with “CO,” a song that pays just enough homage to the bluegrass and country music Colorado is known for with guitarist Dimitry Zingerman’s ascending riffs and thrumming low end from bassist Jeff Johnson. The band tips its hat to the wild west, never losing touch with the gilded layers of harmony and percussion that define the band’s sound. Horn swells provided by Andy “AG” Geib (Wise Monkey Orchestra, Slightly Stoopid) impart the elation that comes with discovering an unknown place with an expanding heart. When vocalist/guitar player Christopher Balcom admits “you left me thinking about a different life, far from the city lights,” it evokes the surprise of falling in love with a landscape and the compelling need to return felt even before leaving.
Before the first words are heard, heartache is apparent in “Hold Tight.” Here, again, the lyrics and instrumentation communicate a single message, as the song gains solid footing only after vocalist and drummer Marlo Smith strongly ties hope to struggle with a convincing promise that “the cold is where you’ll find your soul.” The complex and soaring harmonies are at once stirring and melancholy, evoking a cathartic palette of sorrow, expectation, and optimism. The refrain “memories that we once had, they turn to sand” relay the almost universal pain of dissolution at the end of a relationship, but assurances of healing are so intertwined with adversity that the listener ends the song feeling restored and hopeful.
Rachel Riba’s percussion carries the momentum of “Waterfall” with a rhythmic nod to the flow of water in the band’s interpretation of a poem by Stephen O’Shea. The glassy, high-motion keys from Shannon O'Shea help create the glistening tapestry that turns the poem into an auditory monument. At the song’s peak, the band harnesses space and simplicity to ramp up the emotional impact to a level rarely achieved, particularly in a studio recording.
Throughout Blue Space Golden Howl imparts energy, authenticity, and emotion that refuse to be ignored. The brilliant musicality and production (by Jeff Berkeley of Berkley Sound) work in tandem with the lyrics to create a nearly endless array of points of connection and empathy from the listener. Blue Space sits comfortably as a spectacular second chapter in Golden Howl’s story.
Find Blue Space:
iTunes - Amazon - Spotify
Meet the Writer: Jules Stewart
Our Lady Brain blog writers work on a volunteer basis in support of their fellow members. If you enjoyed this article, please consider making a small donation to Jules via Venmo, which will help support her creative endeavors.
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