A love of nature and a love of folk music are hallmarks of Left Vessel’s personal style, and his newest release “This Year Be” proves to be no different. “This Year Be” crafts an engaging sound that at once feels authentically human and raw, and also like a pure imitator of the sounds of nature.
The entire track centers around an acoustic guitar riff. The acoustic guitar leads the track, and even seems to overpower the vocals in the final mixing, done by Cory Hanson. The guitar is smooth, it’s flowing, and gives the feel of flowing water in a creek bed. The acoustic bass is a nice addition to the guitar riff as well and gives support to the entire track. The folk sound is very dominant in “This Year Be”, as demonstrated by the lack of traditional percussion. Instead, the percussion is very light, consisting mainly of shakers, and the chord changes towards the latter half of the song are accented by strong backing strings. I really love the sounds that can be heard through this song. The shakers remind me of light rain, and the strength and sudden nature of the strings floods my mind with thoughts of thunder.
The vocal style is light and distant, and fits well with the album cover, which depicts the artist sitting by a stream in the countryside. The vocals feel lonely. The production has left the vocals out on their own, just crooning in the wilderness, supported by the sounds of an idealized natural world. I love it. The sound of Left Vessel’s voice reminds me of a 1960s English psychedelic rock singer. I don’t know why, but that is just the feel that I get. The lyrics themselves play strongly into the nature theme, with lines like “This year be the cloud,” “this year be the water,” “this year be the sun” etc. The entire track revolves around nature and the interactions between nature and the human experience. The lyrics really remind me of Modest Mouse songs. The lyrics are cryptic, but yet the main theme can be gleaned from context clues. For example, Left Vessel belts out: “This year be a leaf, this year be a wind, drying your tears, your mother is here.” The lyrics are not super direct, but it would seem that the message compares Mother Earth to the listener’s human mother.
Left Vessel, according to their website, describes their work as “Sound Art,” using the term to refer to any “sonic experience outside of traditionally performed/created music that is made to evoke emotion, ideally with a deeper artistic meaning underlying the work, whatever it may be.” Sound art is such an adept term to describe the experience of “This Year Be.” The song is art, and what it lacks in melody or catchiness, it makes up for in originality and emotion. Left Vessel writes that their music should be experienced in a “conceptual way as well as emotional,” and I think that “This Year Be” does exactly that.