reviewed by Anna Alger
Kris Ellestad embraces the darkness on Faebles, written in the wake of a friend’s death and the dissolution of Ellestad’s marriage. Blending soaring, full band songs with tracks that are more sparse in nature, Ellestad narrates this descent and its aftermath. He tackles intensely personal feelings in a way that highlights their universality.
Faebles opens with “The Call,” its orchestration and hushed vocals swelling, the sound akin to that of Other Lives. There is a moodiness and brooding energy to this track captured in the subdued instrumentation and lyrical references to, “[coming] ’round the bend.” The song’s delicacy is expressed in soft guitar and piano embellishments. Folk guitar loops characterize the music of “Three Sisters,” its vocal melody equally haunting and cyclical. The album’s themes deal with picking up the pieces, evident in the lyrics of the bombastic “Long Letter Day,” “[…] and after this, after that; after all the aftermath.”
Ellestad excels in moments of contemplative instrumentation such as during, “Peacemaker.” The song is a barren landscape, allowing the listener to focus on its roundabout nature. The darkness at the centre of Faebles is touched on through the simple lyric, “How did I spiral downward?” from “The Hanged Man,” whose vocal harmonies recall those of Fleet Foxes.
The album is summed up best by “Ship of Bones,” the song on which Ellestad “longs to leave” such a vessel empty of life: whether this be his relationship or the process of dealing with his friend’s death. Throughout Faebles, Ellestad grapples with different stages of grief and the process itself – one that isn’t linear. Translating this grief and the realization that comes with it into intricate folk song serves to enlighten both writer and listener on the journey of Faebles.
Top Tracks: “Ship of Bones,” “Endless Joy”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good) + *swoop*