Even though judging a book by its cover isn’t considered to be the done thing, I was very much intrigued by that of ‘Cleopatra’, which features silent era star, and first film “vamp” Theda Bara, both in and out of costume, from the 1917 production of the film ‘Cleopatra’. It’s a stunning image, almost disturbing, as Bara stares defiantly from across time. Having enjoyed immensely their debut self titled album, I was certainly looking forward to their follow up, ‘Cleopatra’, and so I dived straight in.
The first thing you notice about ‘Cleopatra’ is that it sounds like it was recorded in an empty room – there’s an echo-y quality about the songs, they’re crisp, they’re clear, and the recording process brings them out of the album, the band is singing and performing in the room with you, it’s a living and breathing thing. The purity of Wesley Schultz’s vocals laid on top of simple instrumentation adds to this effect. Tracks like ‘Angela’, show this most clearly, while ‘In The Light’, which follows on immediately, has a somewhat more bluesy feel to it, especially in regard to the piano. It’s a nice progression for the band who are largely known for their Americana style.
‘Sick In The Head’, the 9th of the 11 songs on the standard album (the deluxe has 15 songs, including an acoustic demo of ‘Cleopatra’), is soft and poignant, with a guitar sounding like raindrops holding the whole song together, while ‘My Eyes’ is a slow, 50s style number, making us think of a James Dean film. In fact, a lot of the tracks have a very sound-track quality about them, and they have suitably cinematic videos accompanying them, such as for title track, ‘Cleopatra’.
Although released almost exactly a year ago, it’s worth listening to ‘Cleopatra’, as well as the Lumineers’ first album, ahead of ‘Seeds’, an exclusive 10” vinyl set which they will be releasing this Saturday 22 April, as part of Record Store Day, and their performance at BST Hyde Park this summer.
‘Seeds’ comprises three different versions each of two songs from ‘Cleopatra’ – ‘Angela’, and ‘Long Way From Home’. Both have, in addition to their studio versions, a live mix and a ‘Seed’ mix. The record will be available from participating Record Store Day stores, and you can find a complete list here.
Find out more about The Lumineers online – including tour dates – from their official website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Tumblr. ‘Cleopatra’ is available from their website, iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.