A Storybook Ending
Out of the mouth of Omaha comes another band seeking indie fame. Often noted for their ties to Conor Oberst pre-Bright Eyes, Tilly and the Wall project their unique voices through Bottoms of Barrels. Their second full-length album has the joyous fun, worldly truths, and animated imagery of an illustrated book set to music. Their name, taken from the child’s story Tillie and the Wall, fits like the perfect puzzle piece in the band’s vision of songs as stories. Rainbow in the Dark introduces its listeners to a collection of life lessons hidden beneath a symphony of youthful chants and upbeat chimes. Yet under the jolly keyboard of Nick Wite, Neely Jenkins and Kianna Alarid sing about real, sometimes dark aspects of the world, as when “I met a man with a fist for a hand / held me flat on my back taught me how to give in.” The band brings so much excitement to their music you almost miss the thoughtful lyrics.
What can’t be missed is the band’s talent. Jamie Williams’s tap-dancing doesn’t merely replace percussion; it makes a clever spectacle out of the relentless rhythms she creates with her feet. Jenkins and Alarid are the innocent pixie voices of Tilly and the Wall telling modern-day folktales of “Lost Girls” and the “Freest Man.” There are several vocal contributions from guitarist and songwriter Derek Presnol who along with White crafts party atmospheres from the flamenco “Bad Education” to the participatory “Sing Songs Along” and even the heartfelt “Love Song.” At the bottom of this barrel is an album of picturesque stories and deeper meanings if you only care to reach inside.