Album Review: Levi Fuller and the Library – The Wonders That There Are

Levi Fuller and the Library – The Wonders That There Are
(self-released, 2014)

The Wonders That There Are is the first LP Levi Fuller has made with his new-ish band the Library and his fourth overall. Like last year’s Social Music EPThe Wonders That There Are (mostly) presents Levi’s musical ideas in a fully-formed rock band setting, a rumbling departure from the sparseness and solitude of his earlier work. The Library brings looseness and a sense of musical heft to the 11 songs that make up the album, many of which have appeared in earlier forms on various Ball of Waxes (or Balls of Wax?). Opener “With Age Wisdom,” a slow-burning ponderer of a song punctuated by guest Librarian Alex Guy’s minor key violin motifs, traces the shifting worldview one throughout their life and introduces the album title in a lyric from the get go.  The first half of the second song, “They Like You,” also musically situates itself in old-school Levi folk territory before crashing drums and distorted bass introduces the slightly sludge rock sensibilities of the Library. Songs like “Free Men” and “Feet of an Oracle” play more with familiar Americana elements, while “Hide and Seek,” “Helium Balloon,” and “Freedom is Slavery” bring more Librarian rocking.

To these ears, the expansive, anthemic “Try to See” is the high-water mark of the record. It’s intricate, dynamic, and pretty while maintaining the sad, folksy nooks and crannies that are littered throughout Levi’s body of work:

Taken in its totality (which is how albums should be taken, pay no heed to the shallow eulogies of new new media), The Wonders That There Are is an ambitious, intimate work that celebrates the more explosive and cathartic textures of rock and folk music. Levi has a comfortable command over his singing and writing, providing plenty of sonic space for Jonathan Wooster’s rumbling bass and Christopher Williams’ creative drumming. The Wonders That There Are captures the sound and spirit of a distinctive songwriter leaving his songs in the capable, calloused hands of a well-oiled rock band.

This Saturday brings a double dose of Levi and the Library live goodness: if you’re in or around the Seattle area, come out to Conor Byrne in Ballard to check out the release show for The Wonders That There Are with Wind Burial and Gravel Road. If you’re anywhere else in the world with an internet connection, check out the band playing a Plastic Jet Airline set online around 7pm PST before they pack up their stuff and head over to Conor Byrne.

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