We Come from the Same Place
Besides poorly written music reviews and rambling directionless musings about medical issues, this blog is littered with half formed failed efforts at short stories. These weak efforts I have sporadically posted have always portrayed moments in time. The goal, I suppose, is to capture immediacy and meaning in the mundane – to find drama in the unspoken and undone. Maybe this is part of why I draw so much from Allo Darlin’ (silly name aside), because singer Elizabeth Morris’ lyrics effortlessly paint emotional moments in time in so few words. She can convey more imagery and meaning in one stanza than I could ever achieve in 4,000 bumbling words.
Allo Darlin’ have always evoked the emotional depth and poeticism of the legendary Go-Betweens, along with the simple charm of The Lucksmiths (especially their final LP 2008’s First Frost) – two long time favorites. We Come from the Same Place is their third long player and it has a come with high expectations. I was a little lukewarm with their 2010 debut, but once I made the effort to listen to the 2012 second album, Europe, I discovered that they were on to something pretty damn special (my #2 pick for record of the year – see review here), and it has remained on heavy rotation ever since. There’s often a fear of what may come from a newly favorite band. Will they stick to the same formula? Will they expand and grow? Will they somehow stay true to the spark that first drew us to them? It’s a no win scenario for most artists. If they don’t develop, people will eventually lose interest. If they broaden their horizons, there’s no way to know if their fan base will follow them down that path (and then disparage them for making the effort). Allo Darlin’ somehow managed the ultimate trick from debut to album number two, by sticking to the same formula, but making it sound more powerful and poignant. The same cannot be said of the transition from Europe to this latest release, but despite sticking to their guns this is still fresh. Maybe their strengths lie in the sheer friendliness of their sound and Morris’ words. Paul Rains’ fresh and endlessly melodic guitar leads, Bill Bottling’s deep bass lines, and Mike Collins’ spiky drums fills are comforting, while Morris’ rich vocals and her sentimental vignettes of love found, lost, or missed from all over the world feel like postcards from one’s oldest and dearest friend. Their music contains a warmth and lushness that feels welcoming.
The album opens with the endearing “Heartbeat,” a tale of a drunken night out dancing with friends – probably in an effort to get over a recent break-up, so the fun and games is entrenched in lingering heartbreak (“I’m starting to think true romance is fictional”). There actually seems to be a lot of drinking across many of these stories. The wine comes out in “Angela” as Morris does her best to help a friend get through a recent break-up and one absolutely heartbreaking chorus: “And the hardest thing we ever have to learn is when those we love don’t love us in return.” Meanwhile, “Kings and Queens” (originally released on the 2012 Where It’s At Is Where You Are Records 7777777 singles club release) finds our narrator hopping from bar to bar and feeling the high of being in love and having fun. Rains joins Morris on vocals in the sweet duet “Bright Eyes” - reminding a little of the gone too soon Standard Fare, except things are okay here. It’s nice to hear Rains unleash a little buzz and feedback on his guitar as this song climaxes. The entire band brings an edge to “Half Heart Necklace,” where we find Morris delving into a song about falling for the bad guy. There’s more upbeat pop perfection with “Romance and Adventure” – a song filled with mixed emotions, but the dreamy chorus put things on hold for a brief moment as Morris admits a need to revel in her sadness (“I’m just tired of being strong”). It’s this open hearted honesty that is Allo Darlin’s strength. When their earnest and tangibly genuine music plays, one can feel the passion of each song long before delving into the vivid short story lyrics.
We Come from the Same Place ultimately comes to a happy ending. The final three songs, though fraught with uncertainty, come to the realization and acceptance of finding love and a willingness to let go and enjoy the adventure. The anticipation and nervous excitement of the record’s closing song, “Another Year,” is absolutely bursting in the slow glide and bounce of the music, while Morris describes a sketchy plane trip into the unknown and the beginning of a new life. Because it feels so real, it is ultimately encouraging and inspirational. Another lovely album.
Allo Darlin' "Romance and Adventure"