Austin's Balmorhea has always made beautiful music, but that pulchritude has often belied the underlying sensuality that makes their music so inviting. The band takes a giant leap forward, embracing that sensuality, on their bold and variegated new album All is Wild, All is Silent. Now a six piece, the band known for their understated simplicity and restraint has produced an album as complex as the workings of the lonely human heart. The addition of drums, upright bass, and wordless vocals, helps the band evoke a timeless American narrative, conjuring the ghosts of our ancestors and tapping the veins of spirited adventurers who seek, discover and defend a kind of home and way of life entirely new. Like the letters of early Texas settler William B Dewees, that inspired the title All is Wild, All is Silent, the album swells with images of an untamed land and a uniquely American optimism and faith in the face of an unknown and savage Nature. The opening track "Settler" beams with a rural down-home aesthetic that could equally inspire whisky drinking or silent prayer. "Harm and Boon" makes sharp turns from painfully vulnerable to soaring triumph without relying upon the formulaic structures overused by so many of today's instrumental groups. The album closes with the haunting and simple "November 1, 1832," sounding like a long-distance call to a home that you can never return to.
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