Album Reviews

Hite

Light of a Strange Day

Artist:     Hite

Album:     Light of a Strange Day

Label:     Six Degrees Records

Release Date:     03/24/2017

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Cabin fever played a role in the making of Light of a Strange Day, the immersive, richly textured debut album from Julia Easterlin’s new experimental folk project, Hite, that was birthed in a blizzard—with Bjork as her muse and producer Shahzad Ismaily acting as midwife.

Amorphous melodies are carefully developed from beautifully arranged acoustic sounds emanating from the dark, eloquent fluidity of interesting bass, piano, guitar and ukulele movements, as well as a variety of sonorous strings, synthesizers and horns. And her poetic lyrics cut deep. Finished with shimmering violin and viola, the otherwise stark a capella track “Spears” poses this question with devastating honesty: “Is that a hand on my spine, keeping me upright/or is it a spear I feel at my back?” That, and other devastating lines, resonate long after the Light of a Strange Day fades out, as do tracks such as “Light,” with its easy mellifluous drift enveloped in bittersweet poignancy, and the mesmerizing opener “Eliza Jane,” where soft horn filigree and a distant, rolling bed of percussion explore a dreamy jungle of sounds that also fill “If You Begin to Notice.”

Uncertainty and world-weary resignation are omnipresent in layers of lissome vocals that shape her poetic ruminations on complicated relationships and spinning vulnerability. Though less enchanted with the loops and programming she used to paint with, Easterlin hasn’t entirely gutted these elements from Light of a Strange Day. She’s just more judicious about using them, and the effects are profoundly moving.

—Peter Lindblad

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