'Midnight and the Pale' review: hypnotic storytelling, superb songs

midnight and the pale, society of broken souls

Society of Broken Souls’ newest album features the multi-talented Dennis James and Lauryn Shapter with a collection of eclectic sounds woven seamlessly together while the lyrics evoke imagery both sweet and stark. While storytelling is the realm of folk music, the fictions the duo spin are hypnotic and all but begging to be heard.

A standout of the new SOBS album is its ninth track, “Fortuna.” The lyrics are so poetic that they’re tactile. The sensory description leaps to your fingertips, fills your ears, coats your tongue. The music has a bluesy vibe to it that lends desperation to the song. “Fortuna” is about what it looks like at your lowest point, but it made rock bottom sound beautiful.

Shapter and James: two halves of a whole

Many of the songs Shapter leads are the more serious parts of the album and tackle the idea of things going wrong. Track five, “Pretty,” tells the story of a young woman dealing with the pressures of beauty, but she ends up in a hospital for all her efforts. Shapter’s songs are almost like spoken word pieces; the music is almost a secondary consideration because the words demand to be heard.

This isn’t to say the other half of SOBS, James, is only along for the ride. His songs deal with heartbreak and the pains of moving on, his beats both slow and more rapid (or as rapid as a folk album can get). He has a jaunty song called “Ghost of Kansas,” the first track on Midnight and the Pale that was made to be listened to on a road trip.

Overall, this is a great album for the right people. Midnight and the Pale is best appreciated when lying in bed with nothing else to distract you from the music. It’s meant for listeners who love folk music as well as music, full stop. I’m not sure people who casually listen to Top 40 hits on the radio will be downloading the whole album, but it’s certainly worth a listen.

You can purchase Midnight and the Pale on Amazon here.

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