A short time ago, I did a quick review of Caroline Lufkin‘s 2006 album Murmurs. It’s only fitting that I now do one on her latest record Verdugo Hills which was released January 25th, 2011. As with her previous record, Caroline stays close to her slower tempo and whisper-like voice roots with this record, providing a harmonious and pleasing sound while delivering the goods as far as quality.
Caroline's Verdugo Hills
Diving right in, the opening track “Balloons” gives you a feeling of listlessness as you are slowly lifted off your feet by Caroline’s haunting and caressing voice, a very slow drum beat releasing you of your stressful day. The song is rather short, clocking in at only 1 minute and 16 seconds, but it’s clear that it’s not meant to make much of an impression beyond the fact that it prepares you for what’s to come later in the record.
The second track is, by far, the sweet and heart warming Caroline that we all know and love. Starting with a wispy and ghost like voice, “Swimmer” explores your inner most feelings as its slow tempo and complementing lyrics wrap their soul around you and pull you onto an imaginary dance floor, compelling you to move along with them. Caroline’s voice doesn’t plead with you to join her, but you begin to feel that if you don’t, you will miss out on the solace and serenity she brings to the proposed meeting. As the track wraps up, you feel the urge to have her continue singing, only you know that this kind of exuberance cannot last forever.
Track 10 is another that doesn’t fail to deliver classic Caroline, but this time with a little more than you expect. With some of her songs, Caroline, at times, seems like a minimalist when it comes to her voice. You feel as if she were holding back from you so that she would be able to impress you with her light and satisfying voice without giving it all away too soon. Occasionally, she does purposely bring a little more for you to yearn for. “Gone” is just such a track where she offers you more flexibility in respect to her vocal talent. The song is also more up tempo which also lends reverence to her ability to offer more than just a few airy-voiced slow songs. While it is still very much a Caroline song, it lets you know that she is willing to go to a few different areas musically so that she can offer her listeners more variety and prove that she isn’t some one-trick pony.
While I do appreciate her obviously singing ability, the song “Waltz” offers very little of it as far as quantity. Lending her voice to the track for only a handful of lines forces you to appreciate the tune itself and the music quality. The few times we hear her voice is pleasing, but it’s absence, at times, leaves you feeling empty and slightly unfulfilled. Knowing how distinctive her voice is, I am sure Caroline purposely selected it’s pronounced absence from the song, asking her audience to really give credit to the music used and not just her vocals.
Looking back and re-listening to Murmurs definitely lets me know that Caroline, in a musical sense, is still the same woman she was in 2006. She does expand upon her original idea though, leaving you with a strong sense of satisfaction for purchasing Verdugo Hills. While I have listened to her 2008 release of the Murmurs remixes, I still find the original much more pleasing to the ear, but that is simply my personal preference as I have grown so fond of her voice. With Caroline, I find myself appreciating her work though so I do still, from time to time, listen to the remixes. I will however say that her vocals in some of those tunes is so choppy it takes away from what I love about her the most.
If you haven’t done so already, definitely check her out on iTunes and Amazon and give her a listen. If you haven’t heard the track “Swimmer,” I have included a link to her song on youtube so give her a listen when you have the time. You may find that she will, with a single song, change your taste in music.