Some of the greatest bands come out of the smallest local scenes. In Minneapolis, the local music scene is lively, rich and heralded as one of the best in the country. The city has offered everything from indie rock giants, like The Replacements and Motion City Soundtrack, to an ever-growing swell of up-and-coming bands with huge local followings. Americana outfit Romantica fits the latter description, their impact expanding wider with each record they create.
Shadowlands is the fourth full-length album from Romantica, who took a seven year hiatus after the release of the acclaimed America. Heartfelt and soulful, this album shows the band has a cohesive and unwavering sound. Singer-songwriter Ben Kyle has achieved a new level of mesmerizing, reflective melodic construction, surpassing mere lyrics and creating symphonies of beautiful poetry. His voice is soft but the conviction behind it is so moving on each and every minute of this 14-track album.
“Let the Light Go Through You” and “Harder to Hear,” the first two songs on the album, are the most obvious standouts. These songs evoke the likes of The Decemberists and Band of Horses without becoming caricatures of those better known bands. “Give Your Heart a Shelter” brings a moody melody that is as thought-provoking as it is relaxing. Romantica crosses over into country territory on “Cecil Ingram Conor” and “Lonely Star,” but does so incredibly naturally. Neither song feels forced, a testament to the band’s expansive talent. “Nobody Knows” has that classic folksy twang, but is blended beautifully with a soulful flavor.
Though the band has shuffled through different lineups, the sentiment behind their music has remained the same. On the band’s website, Kyle writes, “We’re doing it for the joy of it and because we love it…It’s not about being successful in the generic sense. It’s about bringing the gifts we’ve been given and giving them to each other and the world in the way that only we will.”
Shadowlands is a work of art, an album to be played in a way so that it can not just be listened to, but heard. Watch a stunning live session of “Harder to Hear” below!