Review: Reverie State by Field Division
Folkwave Duo Dazzles with Dreamy Debut
Artist: Field Division Release Date: October 2014
Album: Reverie State Rating:★★★½ out of 5 stars
Recommended If You Like: Folkwave, King Crimson, Fleetwood Mac, Enya, Indie, Nightime roadtrip music
First off, it should be known: I love dreamy bands. No, not that kind. Music that gets you dreaming and takes your ears and mind on a journey away from your present environment – that makes me giddy. So the fact that this EP was called Reverie State had me excited. After listening, I can tell you that it most certainly lives up to its title. This album was a trip, and one of the most enjoyable auditory journeys I’ve taken in months.
Reverie State is the debut EP from Nashville-based duo Field Division, consisting of well-traveled musicians Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton, whose years of experience and musicianship can be felt as they blend the beautiful acoustics of folk with the electronic influences of synthesizers into a rich, ambient sound they dub “folkwave”. This album is built upon their unique marriage of the comfort of folk and acoustic harmonies with the overarching electronic touch of synthesizer, and its success is due entirely to the equanimity and harmony of this relationship. For a band to strike such a nice balance with these contrasting sounds, especially on a debut record, takes a lot of talent and musical maturity, and the duo have ample supply in both their composition and performance.
Evelyn Taylor delivers perhaps the most striking performance on the record, with her soothing, alluring vocals playing an integral part in weaving together the beautiful, dreamlike landscapes of the album’s repertoire. More importantly, she possesses a vibrancy to her voice that most women who emulate the “soft, light, and soothing” style of delivery fall short on. This strength in her voice is key to keeping her lyricism interesting, somewhat in the vein of Enya’s work on Watermark. However, Frampton’s contributions cannot be ignored either. While largely overshadowed by Taylor vocally, he provides able harmony throughout the album necessary to elevate the ambiance of musical moments to new heights.
Furthermore, both musicians deliver wonderful performances on other instruments. The guitars on this album are wonderful but never overstated, weaving perfectly into the fabric of each song. In an area where many similar outfits fall short, the percussion was solid. I’ve noticed that many bands with an acoustic sound often suffer from boring percussion. The beats on Reverie State are never a dominant part of any song, but it is inventive enough to stay interesting. Finally, I couldn’t review this album without talking about the ingenious use of synthesizer! Taylor and Frampton did a famous job of creating some great, ambling synth melody and background that really complemented the rest of the elements of the music. Taylor’s voice may have been the ribbon on the gift, but the relationship struck between synth and acoustic guitars is what makes this album special.
This being said, this album was not without its flaws. The lyrics were not especially noteworthy, and not always entirely decipherable from Taylor’s sweeping delivery. This may seem a little harsh, but the actual poetry to this album is not as much of an essential part to the experience. Anyone who has heard Watermark or Court of the Crimson King knows that lyrics can oftentimes take a backseat to the instrumentation when fully illuminating the dreamy atmosphere of musical landscapes like these. Furthermore, at times this album does run the risk of sounding like a blur; many of the songs shared similar pacing. This “lack of diverse tempos”, for lack of a better term, wasn’t a big issue for me, but it could present some stink to listeners outside the genre. This band possesses great multi-genre appeal, so it is crucial that EPs like this present a full pallet to audiences to fully utilize that potential. This is what separates great releases from the truly outstanding. Speaking of outstanding, let’s get to the highlights!
Radio Darling/Fan Favorite: “Faultlines”
“Faultlines” is the opening to this album and gives an early demonstration of all the best aspects of this band. It opens with a glittering synth intro before settling into a perfectly-paced rhythm to carry you away to new places. Evelyn Taylor soon joins with her perfect, light delivery that sounds almost like she’s kissing the lyrics. The chorus rises almost out of nowhere but perfectly in time, an incredibly ambient manifestation, the combo of Taylor, Frampton and synthesizer in total harmony.The lyrics are equally adept in drawing listeners into the dream, a calm yet emotional entreating to finding one’s self in the journey of life. While this is by no means the runaway candidate for best song in either category, this song showcases the band at its best. This is the song that will enchant listeners on the radio and endear fans to Field Division for life.
Sleeper: “To Innisfree Land”
This song is the conclusion to the album, and a fun one at that. This song possesses a certain energy to it that separates it from its kin on the album and suggests even better things are to come. While all of the songs on this album have an excellent, dreamlike quality, this one’s vibe seems to almost say, “Thanks for coming; just wait ’til you hear what we have coming up next!”. This song has a spunky guitar line to it, and probably the most compelling percussion on the album. The lyrics to this tell of a journey to Innisfree Land, which (I absolutely love) is not specified whether it is a physical place or state of mind. The mysticism and ambiguity of the lyrics leave it up to the listener, which I think is a perfect cap to this album’s theme. This song grew on me over several listens to the point that it could be my favorite for the album, and I think that its different vibe will enchant those who might give it a shrug at first listen.
Though this album is not without its flaws, Reverie State succeeds in providing a sound both unique and alluring to audiences. Field Division officiated a dream marriage of folk and synthesizers elements to create an album full of mystical landscapes and thematic wonders. The harmonies are ambient and memorable, the instrumental work is solid, and all the musical elements mesh together in an intricately woven piece. It is clear that this band enjoys an abundance of talent, and the vocals and acoustic work of seasoned musicians Evelyn Taylor and Nicholas Frampton will stick with listeners and leave them in anticipation to see the direction they take next in their journey beyond Reverie State.