Note: this band was previously called Flights, and that was how I wrote about them where this post was previously published at Listen Before You Buy. I have updated the name in this re-posting.
Laced with piano, steeped in landscapes & sugar spun with Eric Hillman & Brian Holl’s perfectly complementing vocals, ‘Anywhere But Where I Am’, the debut album from the group entitled Foreign Fields is the type of music that fits a rainy day. But it isn’t completely melancholy, it just has the same soothing qualities of a deliciously grey sky and the soft pattering of rain on the window. This record is panoramas of acoustic longing and hopeful sighs, the title suggests a desire to fly from where you are, as does the band name itself, and the songs certainly are imbued with a sense of movement, travel and desire to leave.
Foreign Fields are often compared to Bon Iver, Grizzly Bear and other airy-voiced, floating guitar and harmony-infused music, but they seem more focused in on the practice of examining a physical space and attempting to convey it lyrically and musically. Beginning with ‘From The Lake To The Land’ a song that buzzes in and out with surprising extremes of gentleness and severity, allusions to nature, and the contrast between relationships and physical setting are drawn in a poignant and original ways.
Echoing with emotion, the record continues on into the absolute shock of human growth and how we can change without even realizing it sometimes on ‘Taller’. Always on this album, the reflections on physicality contain emotional and spiritual connotations just under the surface. As the lyrics lament and question “How am I / How am I / Taller?” I relate to this not just in a bodily sense, but in an expanding emotional and spiritual growth that finally finishing college and striking off on my own in a new city has brought about.
My favorite track on the album is easily ‘So Many Foreign Homes’ which falls smack dab in the middle of the record. Their songs possess these tiny little elements that combine together to make a larger picture, the auditory equivalent of a mosaic. Anyone who has moved and felt themselves suddenly fragmented into loving more than one place will relate to this song. Anyone who has wondered at the millions of cities, towns, countries and locations they could find home aside from where they presently live will understand the questions and longing found in this song.
Hillman & Holl are originally from Wisconsin, but now inhabit Nashville, so if anyone understands the sense of movement, the longing for a home that is very different from where one now lives, it is the authors of this stunning song. The idea that these two feelings could meld into a real place that contains both the desire for new horizons as well as the comfort of what home feels like seems captured in ‘Perfect Home’ a haunting ode to the questions that the title to this song inherently contains.
This record is so soothing and delicate, many of the songs will remind the listener of a music box. The childhood kind that promised safety and security somehow, the kind that might be magic if played at just the right moment. ‘Names And Races’ especially exhibits these qualities, opening with very quiet but insistent guitar and vocals, much simpler than many of the other tracks.
Please don’t write this album off as a Bon Iver sound-alike or just another indie album. It grows in depth and beauty with the quiet dignity that truly thought-out and passionate music contains. It grows in subjectiveness until you feel like every track has been written for you, all the while expanding in universal application. Also, you can download the album at their Bandcamp for a name-your-own price feature so get on that and please support these guys!