Canmore, Alberta native Layten Kramer may have funded the pressing of his solo debut with a successful Indiegogo campaign, but Through the Days hardly sounds like the homemade result of three weeks spent recording in Canmore and Vancouver, B.C. Then again, the young musician, who’s been grabbing headlines since the age of 16 with The Eerie Green, has never really sounded like an amateur.
With three go’s at the Calgary Stampede’s Talent Search, it’s no surprise that this year’s entry, with “Sea of Glass” off his debut took home first prize—just that it took so many tries for his experimental folk, as he calls it, to finally take home the win. Kramer, who recorded the album with friends and current tour-mates Dean Kheroufi and Connor Ellinger, already has quite the resume—he’s supported or worked with the likes of Classified, Dan Mangan, Zeus Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and Jordan Klassan—and clearly absorbed whatever there was to learn from them before embarking on his own release.
There are Mangan-like flourishes of trombone as the songs on Through The Days plunge into the chorus and the trills give off a familiar shiver as the song surges. Even when Kramer isn’t driving onwards with a powerful melody, as with his eponymous finale, there’s something captivating about the delicate cords and the steady tapping of the drum in the background like a heartbeat—an apt accompaniment for an EP that focuses so heavily on the passage of time.
In fact, that’s near enough the title of Kramer’s open. His preoccupation with the ticking clock of life kicks off the album as he sings, “So today I found Heaven/She’s up there in the sky/There’s just one problem/It’s that I haven’t died.” And while Kramer doesn’t have quite the baritone that the song’s obvious influence does, as the strumming picks up and the trumpet rings out, he still channels that emotional resonance and turns this into one of the album’s strongest tracks.
With two other songs titled “Pendulum” and “Grown Ups,” it’s hardly a theme that’s merely bookending the album. Maybe it’s the confession in “Pendulum,” as he boldly claims he “has so much to say” that reveals what’s pressing on him, or his belief in the latter track that he’s “all grown up.” And while that’s scarcely the truth at 19, those early worries are clearly doing him a favour and pushing him forward.
At its richest, on “Passing of Time” and “Sea of Change,” Through the Days is full of potential—the kind that makes you sit up and focus on the notes ringing out. And as the album rolls out its mournful, echoing close, the buildup becomes less about the song itself, but wondering what more will come when Kramer starts making use of all the time he has left.
Top tracks: “Passing of Time”; “Sea of Change”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*