Album Review: By Light We Loom, "Caught in the Tide"

In the spirit of full disclosure, I think By Light We Loom is going to be a very big band. I've already come to this conclusion after hearing just eight songs from the duo, which rose from the ashes of the acoustic band, Bethesda. I'm a fast fan after hearing their music for the first time recently. I saw them play at The Happy Dog on November 28, 2015 and instantly wanted to talk to them about their music. By December 7, I'd already had them on the Scene podcast to talk about their first EP Mason Jars, and the follow-up Caught in the Tide that they're releasing at the Beachland January 9th. That's a lot of quick exposure to a new band, but with each step along the way, I've only fallen more and more in love with the music that the husband-wife team of Shanna Delaney and Eric Ling are creating.

Caught in the Tide was recorded with Jim Stewart (Welshly Arms, Ohio Sky, These Knees) just like the band's first EP, but this one sounds like a progression. Both EPs sound good, but there's additional complexity to Tide. When I spoke with the band about the creative process, Eric was almost bashful about how he'd taken to the experimentation of creating the new loops, as if he'd lost control in an embarrassing binge. The band is a duo, so Eric plays guitar and sings backup while Shanna sings lead and fires off the loops from a device that looks like a tablet. These loops were created in painstaking fashion by Eric who would lock himself in a room, building them a piece at a time. Hearing the new EP, it's easy to hear that the work paid off.

"The Scientist" leads off the EP and it's a mix of guitar, more organic sounding drums and keys with accenting synths. Shanna's polished, dramatic vocals are front and center, but Eric's backup vocals are more prominent in the recording than on their first EP. They amp it up even further by having a chorus of friends back them up later in the song.

(You can listen to "The Scientist" here)

"Caught in the Tide" (the song) adds to this idea that there's no real genre for the band. Is it pop? Is it rock? This one channels the guitar and rhythm from 10,000 Maniacs before finding a chorus that has almost a dance club vibe. "Clouds Will Cover Us" has a huge chorus that the band sets up beautifully and in varying ways throughout the song. The EP ends with "Cardinal" which was a song I remembered from seeing the band live. It's another one that seems to use playfulness to offset urgency.

And just like that, it's over. For now, anyway.

As I said in the open, I think By Light We Loom is going to be a big band. In 2016, I'm unsure exactly what that means, but the two teachers from Kent are onto something with their first eight songs since the folding of Bethesda. What they've created is a collection of songs that sound both jubilant and urgent. They are earnest, but won't go so far as to completely break your heart. The music doesn't avoid melancholy, but there's just too much hope in there for it to be residual.

You can pick up a copy of the new EP at the Beachland on January 9th. They will be supported on the evening by These Knees and Joshua Jesty.
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