Finding an ever-present spot on the list of premier indie folk cities in the country is Portland, OR, with it’s country and folk roots, laid-back vibe, and organic character. The latest release from Portland natives, Blind Pilot, ‘We Are the Tide’, is quintessentially northwest, reeking of lush forests soaked in a summer rain as the sun emerges from the cloud coverage. It begins with the kind of rain that allows you to be meditative, creative, and above all, hopeful. Like watching the water drops on a window pane and connecting the dots as they ebb and flow. Later on, when the sun finally appears, life returns to the forest.
The young duo of Israell Nebeker and Ryan Dobrowski gathered their musical and lyrical strengths as evidenced on the critically acclaimed debut, 3 Rounds and a Sound. For their latest release, We Are the Tide (released September 13th via Expunged) the duo took their sound to a more mature nature once again with the help of a long list of their talented friends. Here’s a group coming to grips with their sound and along with that, the arrangements feel more confident, surefooted, and optimistic.
On the opener, ‘Half Moon’, Nebecker’s vocal strength’s are remarkably solidified. The polished sound allows for more consistency in the whole release, working towards a stronger unified theme. ‘Keep You Right’, the first single on the album, is a pleasant meditation on a one sided relationship. The wonderful dichotomy of banjo and piano ballads, push the song along with harmonies and a harmonium following along to wrap it all together in a wonderful little package. The title track on the album, ‘We Are the Tide’, is much more playful in nature with an upbeat rhythm with Nebecker and company providing the vocal punch which has become the obvious trademark of the young group. This strength again is seen on ‘The Colored Night’ which is one the most complete tracks on the album, contrasts and changing styles all fluidly working together. The final track on the release, ‘New York’ utilizes the harmonium once again, providing a vacillant soundscape paired with desolate vocals with intermittent crescendos like crashing waves.
Since its release, We Are the Tide, is an album I have been consistently turning back to when I need a boost. The lows are not too low, yet the highs are not too high. It’s the perfect level of enthusiasm while still remaining slightly reserved. I think that in itself is a perfect philosophy for life. The fact that a release can affect the listener in such a manner is noteworthy in itself. Blind Pilot will be in Austin next week at the Parish on October 5th as well as a free in-store at Waterloo earlier in the day.