The Album Leaf, "A Chorus Of Storytellers"

75 Billboard Rating

The calming electronic drones and soothing melodies that one can expect from an Album Leaf release can again be found on the project's newest set, "A Chorus of Storytellers." But the San Diego-based post-rock act's founder Jimmy LaValle adds a new layer of musical depth by using his touring band in the studio for the first time. The new instrumental diversity especially shines on the song "There Is a Wind," where clashing cymbals and a mesmerizing keyboard melody mesh with LaValle's rich vocal harmonies. And a lone fiddle and sporadic hand claps pump up the energy in "Almost There." Some tracks lack such spontaneity: "Until the Last" would feel dated without the strings and brass that support a keyboard riff, and the barely there tempo of album closer "Tied Knots" sounds like an outtake from the project's 2004 release, "In a Safe Place." Nevertheless, the new ambition found on "A Chorus of Storytellers" has led the Album Leaf to its best execution yet.

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