[12 September 2013]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
North Carolina folk-pop duo Lowland Hum are, in some ways, exactly what you might expect from a married couple playing intimate folk songs. Their vocal harmonies are airtight and sweet, their songs shadowy but bolstered by hope and by a shared vision. But where so many folk acts tend towards the spare and the slow—hoping to drag emotion out of us one pulled note at a time—Lowland Hum’s sound is a vibrant one. The vocals on “War Is Over” rise up and out of the track, letting it bloom instead of whispering in the corner of some coffee shop.
The two work well singing together, on the fragile yet lush space of “Albatross” or the faint stomp of “My House Is Empty”, but they also sound great on solo turns. Lauren Plank Goans’ voice is sweet and approachable, so unassuming you might miss its subtle range, while Daniel Levi Goans can hit with a gruff, confessional whisper or a honeyed howl. The best moments here are personal and bracing—“but the strong desire keeps my feet moving,” they sing at one point—which make some grand statements (“I watch my generation sleep”) feel a bit too broad in comparison. Luckily, they focus mostly on small details writ large in these songs, making Native Air a confident and impressive debut.