Claire and Page Campbell’s Hope for Agoldensummer has been constantly evolving. They’ve had a revolving door of members—and lost third founding member Deb Davis in the process—but on Life Inside the Body, they’ve collaborated closely with producer and musician Suny Lions, and the results are playful and all over the place, but their most focused moments are striking. The vocal harmonies are what push these languid folk songs forward, and on the sepia-toned, echoing space of songs like “Day Glo Grey” and “Daniel Bloom” you can see the ambition lurking on the outskirts of their sound. Guitars ring out and keys chime and things seem bigger than these hushed melodies might imply.
There’s also a few arresting a capella numbers, like opener “Cold Cold Bed”, to remind you just how well these two can sing. The trouble with Life Inside the Body, though, is that there are just too many parts here, too many tangents explored. Winking one-minute turns like “Corn Maze” or “Louis Eckonomides” are pleasant but tossed-off, distractions from the rest of the record. And, with 16 songs and 45 minutes, the threadbare folk starts to show some holes. When they’re not layering too simple songs like “Tuscon” or the front-porch plucking of “Come Over”, it sounds like they’re merely playing the part of a folk group. The Campbells can sing, that’s for sure, and Lions brings out some new layers that stretch them into new territory, but often on this record, they end up sticking too close to home.