[Album Review] Evening Hymns- Quiet Energies
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Release Date: September 18th, 2015
Label: Outside Music/Shuffling Feet/Kutu Records/Tin Angel Records

In lead singer Jonas Bonnetta’s own words, ‘Quiet Energies’ is a road trip album. A journey. For Bonnetta it represents an emotional movement forward, as reflected in his touching lyrics. Unfortunately, the impetus of the music is not forwards, it’s backwards – back to the familiar territory of 1980s americana.

Naturally, this is a stylistic choice for Evening Hymns, and it does work to a certain degree. The mystical “If I Were a Portal” uses americana more as a starting off point, as it employs modern synth touches to good advantage. “Rescue Teams” is highly emotionally charged thanks to some deep slide guitar and effective use of reverb and echo. Overall, however, the use of this well-worn genre robs the record of its originality, thereby detracting from the emotional impact of Bonnetta’s words.

As if to underscore this point, the closing track “Light as a Feather” rises above the rest of the material precisely because it eschews any reference to vintage americana.  The beginning is awash in keyboard ambience, with subtle strings darting in and out. After several minutes the song settles into an acoustic guitar-driven folk number, although the string highlights remain. Not only are you transported to the desert with Bonnetta’s lyrics but the band also creates such a sonic ambience of isolation that you need only close your eyes to be right there in the high country of Joshua Tree. If only the rest of the album were couched in such as musical framework.