Aaron Lopez-Barrantes- ALB

00:00 February 23, 2014
By: David Vicari

I'm going to start this review with a disclaimer: Aaron Lopez-Barrantes' debut album ALB has doodles on its cover. For those of you intimately familiar with the indie movie boom of the mid-'00s, you can probably already venture a guess as to what the music contained within sounds like. The breezy folk that Barrantes trades in is the perfect sort of music to soundtrack a wistful teen staring at their bedroom ceiling, a manic pixie creating a chalk mural or 30-somethings dealing with their feelings of wanderlust. Not to say that's a bad thing. ALB certainly has a place beyond the office of Focus Features' music director, and that place is any lazy autumn or winter day where you find yourself digging into a well-worn book. However exceptional for background music, it's not quite on par with "reading music" peers like Brazzaville and The National; Lopez-Barrantes' tales rely on clichés and Moon-in-June rhyme schemes. Much in the same way that the cover's aforementioned doodles could become three-dimensional with a bit of shading, this seemingly smooth album gains quite a bit of depth when Lopez-Barrantes showcases his guitar-playing skills and ear for composition. The touches of Bossa Nova on "Destination" and "Home," the excellent horn riffs and soulful melody on "Scared Of Heights" and the front-porch blues of "Blue Bird" when paired with Lopez-Barrantes' all-over agreeable vocals help keep ALB out of the "missable" column.

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