Kris Orlowski’s sophomore full-length, Often in the Pause, develops the band’s sound by finding a more comfortable place in multiple styles.
Seattle music has been on a roll this year. I’ll let you decide what type of roll (jelly? sushi? cinnamon? I’ll stop before I get too weird with it), but it’s certainly the case that Kris Orlowski is on the ingredient list with the likes of Deep Sea Diver and Damien Jurado.
Maybe I should have let that analogy die.
Orlowski quit his day job last year to pursue music full time, and the results so far have been exceptional. In the autumn of last year, he presented a covers EP of George and Ira Gershwin (which received some end-of-year love from W\A\M). Next week, Orlowski will be releasing his sophomore album, Often in the Pause, which finds the songwriter and crew channeling their live show by pushing farther into pop and rock atmospheres while keeping a folk singer-songwriter at its heart.
A prime example of this shift in direction is the single “Falling Apart,” which carries Orlowski’s distinct brand of lyricism while moving from Believer‘s neo-Americana into anthemic pop-rock.
The refined production and more accessible approach causes the album to lose some warmth at times, but it isn’t enough to undermine the experience. At the center of each release has been Orlowski’s voice and songwriting, and Often in the Pause is no exception. The stylistic explorations overwhelmingly pay off because each variation seems totally natural for the band. From the swaggering single “Carry Your Weight” to the tender acoustic take “Lost,” nothing in the album seems forced.
Perhaps the album’s finest track is “Stars & Thorns.” It’s the Often in the Pause equivalent of “Believer,” using patriotic and nostalgic metaphor to call for action. In an album full of sincere, earnest moments, this one sticks out.
Often in the Pause is a calculated piece from a skilled songwriter. Kris Orlowski and the band have caught their stride, and their latest progressions evidence their experience and expertise. Hard work has evidently paid off in this album. The boys should be proud.
Check out Kris Orlowski on the Web, and be sure to pick up Often in the Pause, out May 6th.