There are two reasons why we stop to pay attention to something. It happens when a sight, smell, or sound is so arresting that our physical bodies automatically orient themselves toward that very thing — an early morning walk by a bakery, a slow drive by a crash site. It also occurs when we consciously decide to take in something of value — a parent impressing a point, a beat poet reading her latest creation.
The differentiation here is important because it speaks to the two-sided beauty of Lowland Hum’s body of work. The sparse and (mostly) serious sounds of the married indie folk duo of Daniel and Lauren Goans have long demanded our attention for both reasons. Starting from their 2013 debut Native Air, the duo’s acoustic-driven creations have captivated with their pastoral yet progressive arrangements. At the same time, we’re driven to pay attention knowing the time invested will yield meaningful personal dividends.
Glyphonic is the band’s fourth full-length album and it falls right in line with the rest of their archive. Songs like the light-yet-propulsive opener “Will You Be” conjure the best of Waterdeep and commands your attention from the outset. The hypnotic and haunting atmosphere of “Salzburg Summer” might just be the most beautiful song in Lowland Hum’s catalog, while “Eye in the Sky” dances effortlessly along to lovely and simple guitar/piano interplay.
Yet Glyphonic also beckons you to pull up a chair for what it offers in substance. Whether you want to sit and stare with their same appreciative gaze at something beautiful (“Raise the Ring,” “I Want You That Way”) or you’re interested in deeper musings and meditations that force us to wrestle toward our better selves (“Slow,” “In Darkness”), Lowland Hum will reward your interest.
Take, for instance, one of Glyphonic’s highlight tracks, “Slow.” It’s here that both sides of the attentive coin go to work. Alongside the smart acoustic flourishes and solid vocal work, Daniel and Lauren sing, “I am slow and it’s high time I am slowed down / to feel the cost of all my movement.” It’s a marriage pairing Wendell Berry-esque sentiments with the melodic sensibilities of The Milk Carton Kids or Lewis & Clarke or early Rue Royale.
Most artists would do well to captivate attention for just one reason. Lowland Hum have thoughtfully offered up another set of songs that would call us to them — if we weren’t already seated and waiting for them to arrive.