By Joel Russ
Lunar Spirit. Atmospheric, yet down to earth. Like an Indie Fleetwood Mac, their music maintains a professional sound without sacrificing any sense of realness. When I asked them about their 2019 record, Ashes & Gold, they said that the record was started in early 2017 and wouldn’t be released for two years after its first song was written.
“This was the band’s first album where we wrote about a common theme – hope and love,” the band says. “Through all our collective struggles in the years since In Another Light, Lunar Spirit wrote about our most vulnerable and special moments.”
The album’s sound definitely reflects that emphasis on special moments. It’s not loud or crowded, but it’s not sparse either. Poignant is the word that comes to mind: a focus on beauty with mostly straight ahead, slower grooves. The album’s opening track, “New Beginnings,” sets the stage with a minute of string swells. They’re ethereal – almost like the beginning of a movie.
The entire album builds on this idea, especially on my favorite track “Strangers Now.” The vocal performance is left as natural as possible (a consistent approach across the album). This approach creates a more genuine, intimate sound that really elevates this album for me and makes the listening experience much more enjoyable. I think my attitude about this song can be best expressed through a slight edit to a great Jack Stratton line, “It’s so [catchy] and it’s low volume… come on!” The main hook has no words, bringing in a thick texture of lead and background vocals that will have you singing along by the end of your first listen. At least I was.
Band member Emily Tribe wrote “Strangers Now” while teaching English in China in the spring of 2016. “In retrospect it was a very pivotal moment in my life where I realized after an extremely hard separation what direction I wanted to go,” she says. “Up until that point, I was sort of spinning in circles around what I thought I wanted or what I thought was good for myself. Making sense of rejection and loss for the first time was hard for me. So what better way to take on those emotions than to write an angsty song about it? While I like to joke around about the origin of the song sometimes, I do feel like it’s one of the first songs that I truly found my voice in. Writing the song brought a sense of relief and confidence for me in a hard time. Hopefully it can do the same for the people who listen.”
Overwhelmingly positive marks from me for Ashes & Gold! The work as a whole is professional, satisfying, and musically interesting. My one complaint is that the band really could have released two separate, excellent albums with the amount of material contained in this one. That being said, it still wasn’t enough: I can’t wait to listen to more Lunar Spirit.
Make sure to follow Lunar Spirit on Instagram. You can check out “Strangers Now” below.