It’s hard to believe nearly a year and a half has passed since Layten Kramer released his debut album—perhaps because Through the Days has stayed in regular rotation on my playlists. And while part of what wowed with that Indiegogo-funded release was the quality from an artist so young, For The Sun makes its own mark with how far Kramer has managed to come from an already impressive start.
There’s a lot more experimentation to Kramer’s sophomore effort, which echoes and vibrates from opener “For The Sun” all the way through. It crashes and bounces, darker even than a debut that preoccupied itself with the limitedness of life. “All my life I’ve been living for the sun/When it shines I know my day has begun,” stands in contrast to what came first, though it’d be hard to suss out this detail at first listen through Kramer’s darker, altered vocals.
There’s simply more to each track, as “Thin White Lies” shows off Connor Ellinger hard at work on percussion while the song layers itself into a frantic finale. “Nowhere to Go” is far more classic Kramer, getting by with fewer tweaks and pulling out some smooth notes as the song lets his voice come through, Kathryn Calder chiming in for the chorus.
“Wine Song” is a cool sipper, while “Shadows” slips into a country-like storytelling rhythm, muted slightly by Kramer’s own aesthetic. That old fear makes its way back, “I’m growing old/So I am told/And I have so much to see/How can this be?” as Kramer’s voice hauntingly draws out the final lines and puzzles the strangeness of that transition to adulthood.
But the slower pace is quickly discarded for “Lack of Love,” even if Kramer’s fatalism persists. “Deranged” bursts out as a catchy diversion, full of movement and trying to escape. “Oh the seasons, the seasons won’t change,” he sings, before hitting the road and heading for the coast to keep up with a world threatening to leave him behind.
The real slow-down comes with “Gold and the Sea,” mournful and ominous as the closing build captures the awe-inspiring cacophony of the sea on a stormy day. Possibly for the best, “Time Is Here to Stay” ends the album on a far more reassuring note than I’ve come to expect from Kramer—a promising sign that despite the years racing past, both in Kramer’s life and between releases, there’s plenty more to come before the end.
Top Tracks: “Deranged”; “Gold and the Sea”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)