Review: Julian Lynch – “Terra”

If there’s one artist that’s really captured both my attention and my imagination over the past six months, it’s Julian Lynch.

I discovered his 2010 release Mare last summer, but I admit that I usually just used it as a sleep aid. It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve at 285 Kent that Lynch’s live show drew me in to the subtleties found in his recordings. After all, how could songs I’d been using as my soundtrack for sleep be just so… loud?

The fact that I truly was missing out on something was reinforced about a week later during Lynch’s set at Subterranean A, where his version of “Nen Vole” left me absolutely speechless.

But while his live show is very much so a rock show, the recordings are still entrancing to listen to, especially April’s Terra, which dropped on Underwater Peoples. I’ve said it about so many albums this year, but Terra could take the album of the year title. Time will tell on that.

The songs on Terra have some of the most comforting atmospheres of any songs out there. Whether it’s the pianos sitting in the background on “Fort Collins” or the extensive clarinet on “Ground,” it’s easy to sit back and be surrounded by the aural textures created by Lynch’s instrumentation.

The album, however, isn’t all atmospheres and soundscapes. Both “Terra” and “Back,” the two songs that bookend the album, are rocking songs. On “Back,” the buildup to the entrance of the lead guitar is one of my favorite moments on the album, and the rhythm of “Terra” makes my head bob up and down every single time.

While both Terra and Mare have unusual instrumentations, from a pop standpoint at least, Terra features the synthesizer much more prominently, like on the introduction to “Canopy” and the outro on “Back.” It adds another touch that makes the listener’s ears perk up, as it’s something new and a little unexpected.

Other standout tracks on the album include “On Eastern Time,” which is measured and meditative, and “Water Wheel Two,” a mostly instrumental track that has great percussion in it.

Terra is an album that I can sit down and listen to immediately, no matter the mood or any extenuating circumstances. It’s a comforting record and makes for compelling listening every time out, as my mind finds new things to key on during every listen. While it might not be my album of the year when December rolls around, it’s currently on heavy rotation and one of my favorites, as Lynch is emerging as one of my favorite musicians in music today.

–Daniel

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