I want to see my friends doing ok, not feeling sad and strange. Nowadays, why is it so hard?
3. 18. 16
I was just thinking the other day about how my allergies have not bothered me in the longest time. Usually they hit the hardest during the changing of the seasons, but a lot of the time my nose is stuffy regardless; however, I could not remember the last time I experienced it acting up. This raised an optimism in me, praying that they left. Then yesterday came around, the first day of spring. The weather didn’t even feel like spring with a light snow falling periodically throughout the early afternoon and into the night. Yet of course, yesterday my nose started acting up right on schedule with the changing of the seasons, reminding me how when I think struggle is gone, it is waiting for me right around the corner. Valleyheart’s debut EP Nowadays zooms in on a specific season of struggles, caught in between the past and the future of friendships and the journey of growing up.
The first track, Kid’s from Calvary, is the most straight forward track on the EP. I enjoy how the song follows a more simple structure and straight-forward sound. I think the song is a great introduction to who Valleyheart is as a band. Lead vocalist Kevin Klein reflects upon the dichotomy between his experiences and others he knows in the second verse singing Well it must be nice to get the point, to arrange your whole life and know exactly where you’re going. But I’ll take it, one step at a time is what I want right now. No matter the measure, it’s never enough somehow.
The title track, Nowadays, comes next. Nowadays is by far the most dynamic song on the record. Instrumentally, vocally, everything climbs and dives through the highs and lows of the song in a way which is still cohesive and efficient. I am blown away by the band’s versatility while still maintaining their identity. Each time I listen to this song, I discover something new to hold onto as it displays many different avenues of sound the band is capable of creating. Klein begins the song introducing the prelude of these current struggles with a question I think we all end up asking ourselves at one point or another as he sings I looked how I slept when I was younger and content, with all the simple things I had. So much more than I had, I had you to tell me that it would all turn out just fine. So now I ask you, did we all turn out just fine?
The third track, When I Wake, might be my favorite on the EP. All the pieces work together so well. The verses compliment the chorus and the bridge ties everything together followed by a beautiful ending with the last chorus very intentionally drawing the listener’s attention to the heart of the song, singing I still don’t sleep, cause it all gets the best of me. And when I wake up, how I wish that it all was gone. How I wish that you were gone.
The fourth and final track—Gates—is one of those “last songs on the record” kind of songs. I think this is the most impressive song on the record. This one took the longest to grow on me, but has also had arguably the biggest impact on me personally as well. The song is composed of two crescendos with questions of glory and shortcomings. The second half of this song is beautiful as Klein ends the record with a much grander and broader perspective than himself or this current stage of life as he sings into the height of the second crescendo From the gardens to the gates, bowed before you, what will you say: Oh my children you’ve only ever known my name. When you come back, are we lost? Did we miss the whole point of it all, still wandering in this fog? I don’t know. I don’t know.
It is hard to write in a way which truly reaches people where they are, but Valleyheart has done this with great success on Nowadays. Even more impressive is how these relatable ideas and experiences are coupled with such strong songwriting both instrumentally and lyrically from a band who has composed what is looking like it will be, in my opinion, one of the best EP’s released in 2016.
For Fans Of: Manchester Orchesta, Balance and Composure, Copeland
Favorite Songs: When I Wake, Gates, Nowadays, Kids from Calvary
Album Cover: 9/10