Lullatone: Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures

Though it's not always a reliable move, it can be tempting to draw connections between an artist's music and the presumed status of his/her life. If one were to hazard such a move in the case of Lullatone's Soundtracks for Everyday Adventures, one would have to conclude that life for Yoshimi and Shawn James Seymour has never been better. In short, this latest Lullatone collection is probably the sunniest recording you'll hear in 2012, and the year has hardly begun. Of course Lullatone music has always been jubilant, whimsical, and carefree, but the new set takes it up a notch. But that it does so is a wee bit surprising, however, given that the material—in song titles, at least—indicates a growing sensitivity on the Seymours' part to life's stages and the inevitable onset of getting older.

Setting the tone, “Growing Up” exudes the innocence and joy of youth in its jaunty rhythms and bright blend of tinkling vibraphones and flutes. Though the songs are instrumentally rich, they never lose their light and airy feel. Strings, piano, horns, brushed drums, guitalele (a Japanese cross between guitar and ukulele), and glockenspiels are just a smattering of the sounds that surface in the fifteen songs the Seymours recorded in their home studio. Hinting at a more mature side of the group, “An Older Couple Holding Hands” warms the heart with a gentle stream of acoustic picking and glockenspiel, the music as fragile as the elderly couple being discreetly observed. “A Picture of Your Grandparents When They Were Young” likewise exudes a melancholy tone in its affectionate evocation of a heightened moment. “Checking Things Off of a To-Do List Early in the Morning,” on the other hand, is animated by the kind of get-up-and-go energy one feels before the day's challenges have had a chance to sap one's spirit. “Riding a Bike Down a Big Hill and Taking Your Feet Off of the Pedals” barrels forth at a breezy clip, as if to capture in song form the feelings of liberation and elation that come from the cycling experience. Some songs are uptempo and robust (e.g., “Clapping Contest”), whereas others are simple and homemade in the extreme, such as the whistling-driven jaunt “The Kind of Song You Make Up in Your Head When You Are Bored.” Others, such as “Brass Practice” are self-descriptive.

The full spectrum of human experience is captured in the thirty-five-minute collection, and song titles alone tell a story about the simple joys of everyday life, from buying strawberries at the market and flying kites to riding a bike downhill and making paper airplanes. In Lullatone's hands, the mundane moments that make up so much of our lives are transmuted into endearing sonic vignettes of delight and wonder.

January 2012