Album Review

Romantica Comes Out From the Shadows and Into the Light

Romantica - Shadowlands

Ben Kyle appears to be in a melancholy mood, but then again, that’s the tack he’s taken for his band Romantica’s previous three outings, as well as the solo album he released under individual auspices. Nevertheless, as evidenced by Romantica’s latest, the aptly titled Shadowlands, the exceptional beauty with which Kyle and his colleagues convey these hushed musings more than makes up for any sense of darkness and despair. Indeed, it’s hard to deny that the haunting tones of “Let the Light Go Through You,” “Harder To Hear” and “Buffalo Bill” are anything but alluring, and given the nocturnal atmosphere and seductive stance, even the lethargic way Kyle croons “Yes I’m in love” on the plaintive “Get Back In Love” sounds credible, if not entirely convincing. Likewise, while Shadowlands, the band's first album in nine year and undeniably their best, starts out in ways both hushed and haunting, that’s not always the case throughout. As if to contradict that categorization, the band delves into the kind of upbeat Americana that would make the Nashville crown proud, with “Cecil Ingram Connor,” “St Paul City Lights” and “Lonely Star” offering a rousing rebuke to any notion that forlorn folk is their only area of interest. Indeed, a track like “After the War” finds them emulating the Band, all rustic tones bound up in vintage trappings. In a certain sense, Romantica seem like two groups in one, such is the yin and yang of quiet confession versus swagger and sway of their alt-country template. Happily, it all works well even despite a certain inconsistency, making Shadowlands a brighter beacon than one might have initially assumed.