The Album Leaf – A Chorus of Storytellers

The Album Leaf - A Chorus of Storytellers

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” doesn’t really work in the business of making records. Music consumers expect musicians to improve and take their music to the next level in a forward progression. So bands strive hard to find a balance between the familiar sounds that attracted fans in the first place and the evolution to a new, and hopefully better sound. Achieving this delicate balance is what has allowed The Album Leaf to survive for 10 years, 5 albums and a string of EPs.

A Chorus of Storytellers has everything a fan wants in a new album, the familiar and the evolution. The familiar comes in the bright, contemplative tones and the gorgeously sublime and meditative orchestrations comparable to those found on previous releases. The evolution comes with more prominent vocals and a new approach to the recording process. In a shift from previous records, where leader and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy LaValle played and recorded everything, A Chorus of Storytellers was recorded live with the other band members. This new strategy provides an added richness and a more human quality that helps shape the cinematic soundscapes into distinctive songs.

Most of the tracks are instrumentals that start with a soft-spoken, sauntering beat and an atmospheric dream-pop sound courtesy of crystal clear and ringing keyboard tones. They slowly evolve with added layers and delicate swells of lush, orchestrated melodies until the listener is engulfed in a soothing and shimmering swirl of sound. Sweetly melancholic strings and Icelandic horn arrangements adorn the resonating rhythms. The vocal tracks are similar but start with a more pronounced beat, occasionally even a scratchy, trip-hop loop, and are colored with gorgeously layered and dreamy textures as the galloping beats and cymbal crashes transform these atmospheric pieces into hauntingly beautiful rock songs.

There’s always a danger that this type of music be construed as New-Age (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but The Album Leaf avoid the tag by taking both a classical and experimental approach to shaping compositions into emotional and colorful, yet engaging music, while skillfully blurring the boundaries between new-age, ambient and indie-rock.