Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we offer songs from local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters is “Heart to Tell” by The Love Language from their 2010 album Libraries on Merge.
North Carolinian Stuart McLamb’s The Love Language began simply as a collection of multi-instrumental lo-fi recordings written to his ex-girlfriend. What started off as a simple cathartic act, the songs that came to form his first self-titled LP (2009, for Portland’s Bladen County) are ambitiously rendered rough sketches of a capable pop maestro. While many an artist has embraced and owned the lo-fi aesthetic, McLamb’s debut compositions seemed to reach out for something bigger -– a more grandiose sound that hovered just outside the reach of a broken hearted guy and a 4-track. Songs like “Providence” hinted at a Belle & Sebastian choirboy lying in wait.
The Love Language’s latest LP finds McLamb’s Language growing into a more pronounced, accessible mode of emotional communication. Gone is the overall lo-fi sound that comes from inexperience, urgency and solitude. This new album is a deep breath of sorts for The Love Language. According to McLamb, lo-fi is “almost an anti-aesthetic, where you’re more interested in capturing the energy than spending your own energy on figuring out tones. It’s more about — Let’s capture the moment.” Of course Libraries is still quite fuzzy and energetic but one listen and you’ll know that a great deal has changed – this new album is purposeful, tack-sharp and deliberate in its delivery. “Heart to Tell” is a fantastic example of how McLamb (with producer/engineer BJ Burton) clipped the lo-fi-speech of last year’s album and translated it into an exciting, larger than life piece of orchestral pop. The instruments are all still here, but this time we can hear the richness in each of the guitar’s six distinct strings… the oddly nostalgic beat and McLamb’s happy-go-lucky vocal are now given the space to be powerful as singular entities while driving the song forward into a new kind of produced density, replete with jovial hand-claps, and Springsteeny guitar solos. A fine bit of music indeed, but if your heart still yearns for the lo-fi, the digital version of Libraries includes 5 bonus demos (including “Heart to Tell”) recorded on the bedroom 4-track. Peep the label’s webstore for details!
You’ll get your chance to see The Love Language perform soon enough. This Fall, they embark on a tour with Local Natives and stop off at Seattle’s Showbox at the Market on September 24. You can find more dates on their MySpace page. For now, here they are performing their fan favorite “Lalita” live on KEXP from ME Television studios during SXSW last year: