Updated: Feb 26, 2020
The Canadian trio, comprised of David Parry, and brothers Lucas and Jesse Henderson, released their first full length album, If I Am Only My Thoughts, on January 31st after a three year hiatus. The album is half an hour of soft finger style guitar with the warm vocals of Jesse Henderson on life, love and purpose. The Victoria based band recorded, mixed and mastered the album in Parry’s basement studio, and the result is a pleasantly homey album.
The record feels effortlessly weightless, and one can easily be drawn into the hypnotic synthesizers and loops. Yet, if the purpose of the Album is to serve as a meditation on life as its title suggests, a closer look reveals that it never fully answers the same questions it presents.
The opening track, "Vision," sets the introspective atmosphere for the rest of the record. Although it is titled "Vision," the song is laid back and hazy. Not quite focusing too hard on anything. There is a delicate percussion that pulls the song gently through to the next. "Only She Knows" continues with a soft finger style guitar that feels reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. As Henderson weaves his voice between the strumming of the guitar, the listener is reminded of Loving’s more indie-folk infused style.
In "If I Am Only My Thoughts," Henderson seems to struggle with idea of being fully present in life while drifting into the world of his thoughts. Finding the balance between the two, he answers at the end of the song, “If I am only my thoughts/Let me be one/Let me be one.” "January" is a short instrumental piece that opens up with a soft haunting piano before the melody is mimicked by other instruments. It follows a steady rhythm that feels similar to the pulse of waves beating against a boat while the violins never interrupt or overtake the soft melody. "Lately In Another Time" flows kindly afterwards and a perky piano can be hear drifting quietly in the background as the song fades out.
"A Mirror For Two Voices" has a false opening which, for the first time in the album, pulls the listener out of the dream like trance. The faded voice in the background counting them back in time draws the listener outside of the dream and into their studio. Even the extended outro plays into the relaxed and sporadic nature of the album, as the song fades out, the soft and playful sounds of different instruments can be heard, evocative of a child experimenting with music.
"Nihilist Kite Flyer" is the first song where Loving delves fully into the album’s existentialist theme. Henderson quietly asks “Am I living my life/ As if I'm flying a kite/ Without a string/ Without any meaning.” It is accompanied by a gentle riff in the middle that makes the song feel like it’s over but simply serves as a gateway for his response, “And though I've always wanted an answer/ Now I know better.” While perhaps one cannot expect an answer from a nihilist, it feels as if though the band opens a dialogue without completely finishing their thought.
"Simple moon" and "Write A River" may be the two most upbeat songs on the LP, each with a spunky drum pattern and "Gardening Flowers By Candlelight" is again a short mesmerizing instrumental piece that feels like something out of the 50s.
The record closes off with "Stranger to Yourself"-- A song that opens with is a stripped down guitar knit to Hederson’s voice before the calm melodies rejoin the song and again fade the album out into a dream.
The album flows through each song with ease and the lack of urgency helps sustain the peaceful atmosphere throughout. Perfect for a quiet afternoon, If I Am Only My Thoughts is a pleasant album that leaves its listener content; yet, it is sometimes difficult to reconcile the relaxed and unassuming nature of the album with the yearning questions buried within. However, at least for now, a relaxed album may prove enough to satisfy.