The Album Leaf's A Chorus Of Storytellers is just that; and it's breathtaking

It’s necessary to start this review with a disclaimer. I have been in love (no hyperbole) with The Album Leaf since I first heard Jimmy LaValle’s project over a decade ago (heh). So, every time a new album comes out, it’s difficult for me to think about anything in an objective light, and contrary to the typical excitement we feel with an upcoming album, I get really anxious; thoughts that I’ll be disappointed envelop me, and I want the best for the artists I love. When I first began listening to A Chorus Of Storytellers, I was immediately enamored with the sound, but thought to myself, wait a second, this is typical Album Leaf, of course I like it. But as I continued on and allowed myself to be taken in by LaValle’s world, I sensed the maturity behind A Chorus, and frankly, fell in love all over again. It’s okay, I won’t allow this to continue as a love letter to LaValle, though it very well could.

What leads me to the conclusion that this album is “mature”?  There are several reasons, most of which I’ll explore, but the overriding sentiment to me is that A Chorus acts as a true continuous album. Songs bleed into each other and develop off of one another, instead of the inclusion of a bunch of singles. It’s an album that must be appreciated in its entirety, and in order. That’s not to say of course, that each song isn’t superbly crafted, but their effects wouldn’t be as pronounced without hearing the context in which they’re placed. Also, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane with my notable album release

Usually I’d say Jimmy LaValle is so talented and all that jazz, but this time The Album Leaf did something special. For every Album Leaf album (I’ll start saying record…), LaValle wanders off into the heart of winter and records the album alone. While the winter part remained the same, this time LaValle was joined by an entire backing band. I’m already enamored with the lush orchestration he’s been able to create himself, so I can only imagine what he was able to do with a full band.

I don’t need to imagine anymore, of course; I can hear it now. And what I hear are breathtaking soundscapes, with elaborate and lavish electronic, heavily-stringed arrangements. There are also several more vocally-driven tracks on this album than previous Album Leaf material. The harmonies go hand-in-hand with the orchestral bent as they play off the quiet/loud dynamic as well as any group out there. But I feel like I’d be doing the album a disservice if I broke it down into pieces, because so much of it blends together into one. It’s not meant to be picked apart, we’re supposed to enter this dreamy chorus of storytellers and feel as if we are that chorus. We are one with the songs; our emotions waver and explode just as the music does. A Chorus Of Storytellers takes us in, allows us to breathe, and drops us off at the end with a new outlook on the world. Realize that the songs below are that much better in the context of the album as a whole.

The Album Leaf – “Within Dreams” [MP3]

The Album Leaf – “Until The Last” [MP3]

Purchase A Chorus Of Storytellers | The Album Leaf website

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