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Ear to the Sound: Byland

 Byland. (Photo: Jake and Alie, tripod.)

Byland. (Photo: Jake and Alie, tripod.)

On a cold Sunday, with my ears still ringing from a late night of playing and taking in music, I first listened to the new album, Desert Days, by Byland. Dynamic and textured, with brilliant songwriting, and attentive production, it's an extremely impressive debut release.

Byland is led by singer, songwriter, and composer, Alie Byland, with the support of her band mate/husband Jake. On Desert Days, Byland create a confident, layered topography to each melody, and a dynamic journey throughout the album. Inspired by the loss of Alie Byland's father, there are definitely mournful tones woven into the album, but the songs are also whimsical, uplifting, and full of love. 

 Alie. (Photo: Amanda Lewis.)

Alie. (Photo: Amanda Lewis.)

"Albuquerque", the first song, is a stand out on the album. I've never been to Albuquerque before, but after hearing this song, I feel like I'm in love with the city. "Childhood Kingdom" is another great track, with lyrics and melodies that feel warm and forlorn, imbued with the emotional nuance that characterizes just one facet of the journey that Byland conducts on Desert Days.

 Byland. (Photo: David Payne.)

Byland. (Photo: David Payne.)

Throughout the album, Alie's voice leads the rise and fall of each song, and it's an impressive instrument---tender where it needs to be, soft and expressive at times, and forceful and passionate in the crests of the wailing choruses. One of the most impressive feats of Desert Days is that Byland deftly balances creating sombre acoustic, organic folk and conjuring powerful walls of cinematic sound, underpinning, while never detracting from the inspired songwriting.

In summary, Byland translates love, loss, and a wide breadth of emotions into a rich sonic journey on Desert Days. If you need an album to warm your heart on the coming, cold winter days, this is it.

Check out the upcoming Byland show at The Sunset Tavern on January 30th with Parke Ave and Seattle Cider. Learn more about the band at BylandMusic.com.