Flight of the Folk Chords

On Darlingside’s latest album Look Up & Fly Away


There’s a distinctive difference between Saturday night music and those sounds best suited for the morning after. By most definitions, Saturday night equates with a night of revelry and abandon. Sunday morning becomes a time for recovery, when the delirious celebration of the night before demands respite by drawing the shades and mellowing the mood… at least until the tumultuous effects of the evening before give way to a clear head and a settled stomach.

As a result, it’s natural to think of music with a big beat, an effusive delivery and an unrepentant attitude as the natural soundtrack for Saturday night celebration. It not only provides the pulse, but generally fuels an uninhibited attitude as well. It can be the sensory set-up that comes with the full assault of heavy metal mayhem, a renegade rapper or simply a demonstrative dance number. The common denominator is generally volume and rhythm, with ample additives of each. Allow for a frantic pace as long as people want to party.

That means that the morning after needs to bring with it a softer sound, best provided through harmony and sway. Avoid anything that’s too obtrusive or capable of jarring the senses, a sound that opts for delicacy over delirium.

Look Up & Fly Away by Darlingside

Consider Darlingside an ideal example of the latter. A four piece folkie ensemble from Boston, they specialize in a baroque pop style that’s sedate, soothing, wistful and reflective. They create an atmospheric effect that’s perfectly in sync with a need for a soothing scenario. The band’s latest effort, Look Up & Fly Away, boasts a title that reflects that sense of wistful reflection, allowing each of its six songs to hold fast to dreamy desire. The hushed harmonies of “Bright As The Day,” the quiet contemplation shared through “Rodeo” and the enticing allure that emanates from “Heart Again” are a source of serenity and regal repose. Even the slight uptick in energy sourced in the title track manages to sustain the spell, the Beach Boys-like chorale providing a kind of celestial serenade.

Those that have followed the quartet’s progress over the past ten years and half dozen efforts can already attest to their ability to affect a luminous glow. Don Mitchell (guitar, banjo, vocals), Auyon Mukharji (mandolin, violin, vocals), Harris Paseltiner (guitar, cello, vocals) and David Senft (bass, kick drum, vocals) have perfected an approach that is, by turns, both pretty and precious. The mesh of effects on “Untitled” momentarily intrudes on the proceedings, but once things wrap up with concluding entry “Paradise Bay,” the effect’s effectively sustained, providing a warm glow that warmly reflects the sentiments suggested in the title.

This then is an ideal example of morning after music. Look Up & Fly Away is ideal accompaniment to beckon one back from the abyss.  



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Lee Zimmerman

Lee Zimmerman is a writer and columnist based in beautiful Maryville Tennessee. Over the past 20 years, his work has appeared in dozens of leading music publications. He is also the author of Americana Music: Voice, Visionaries, and Pioneers of an Honest Sound, which will be published by Texas A&M University Press early next year.

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