Gentle guitar and peaceful instrumentals
On August sixth, the indie-pop/folk duo Damon & Naomi released their 13th LP, A Sky Record. They made this record with the impressive Japanese electric guitarist Michio Kurihara, who adds the finishing touches to many tracks. This is a tranquil, cohesive body of work featuring 10 tracks, each of which makes it clear that the group has found their sound.
“Between the Wars” is the album’s second track, and it perfectly captures what Damon & Naomi are all about. This haunting piece begins with soft bass and gentle guitar strums, then drums and a melancholic piano join in as the song escalates. The melody is simple and sad, falling perfectly in place with the rhythm section. After a minute and a half, vocals come in, singing about a war within a relationship and the lull between fights. The slow instrumental, haunting harmonies and storytelling lyrics create a depressing and eerie tone overall.
The fourth track, “Sailing By,” is a peaceful listen. Also beginning with an acoustic guitar playing slow, tender licks, it has a similar sound to the other tracks on the album. The vocals are soft and sweet, with quiet harmonies that add to the sense of calm. The poetic lyrics illustrate a tranquil scene of sailing by worries on a soft ocean. While sounding similar to the other tracks on the album, this song is a meditative listen with poetic lyrics.
“Midnight,” the enchanting seventh track on the album, is a love story told atop another relaxing instrumental. The softly strummed acoustic guitar paired with a serene piano accompaniment creates an easy-going sound that is perfect for this type of story. The lyrics invite someone to come with them to the beach and watch the stars while listening to the waves crash on the shore. This delightful tale pairs well with the pleasant instrumental, creating a charming listening experience.
The eighth track of the record, “Invincible,” is refreshing, as it kicks off with a synthesizer rather than the usual acoustic strums and slow licks. After a few chords, vocals and an acoustic guitar join in. The lyrics tell the story of someone who appears independent and strong on the outside and asks if they would benefit from the company of another. This track stands out from the rest of the album, as it has its own sound and tells a particularly intriguing story that captures the listener’s attention.
On “The Aftertime,” the final track, the album’s signature acoustic guitar strums return with electric guitar lines and a simple drumbeat. Despite sounding very similar to the rest of the album, it’s a good choice for a closer, as it leaves the listener with a perfect impression of Damon & Naomi’s sound. Furthermore, the lyrics and melody are somewhat similar to a lullaby, ending the album on another peaceful note.
Altogether, A Sky Record is an idyllic, enjoyable collection of songs. While it often feels somewhat monotone, it nevertheless contains enough intriguing stories and beautiful instrumentals to make it a pleasurable listening experience.