Music: The Cool Rhythms of the Sea

Amor de Dias second album The House At Sea is an interesting blend of pulsing, almost Bossa Nova infused songs and more low key meandering tunes. The title track is a great example of the latter, with acoustic guitars and melodies that bring to mind a beach and sea scape calm and wide as the ocean itself in the evening light. The opening track, "Voice InThe Rose", is a blend of both, starting slowly with picked guitar and cymbals splashing, then moving to the quick jazz strummed chords in the bridge. The voices of Alasdair MacLean and Lupe Núñez-Fernández combine to create an ethereal vocal slipstream thru out The House At Sea. No matter who is taking the lead vocal, the overall effect is that of a dream that feels lush and tropical, but bathed in a sort of melancholy reflectiveness.

Songs such as "Day" move with a fast pace but still maintain a dreamy edge. Overall, The House At Sea has a more rough feel, not less polished, but more immediate presence than their debut Street Of The Love Of Days did. And tho these songs do feel more urgent, they also present themselves as more complex in the arrangements and production. "Jean's Waving" is a great example of this, with harmonies weaving over the lead vocal, and piano and picked acoustic guitar poking thru the rhythm track of electric guitar and drums. And even when down to the barest of bones, as in "Hampshire Lullaby", there is still the ornate swelling of horns which sound almost like a huge chorus filling the bridges mixed with MacLean's soft lyrics and acoustic guitar. On "Viento del Mar" Núñez-Fernández's vocals are accompanied by a King Crimson like electric lead line (a la "The Night Watch" on Starless and Bible Black) which is to great effect and offers a stark counterpoint to her beautiful Spanish-language vocals.  In its entirety, The House At Sea is a wonderful testament to the songwriting and performing of Núñez-Fernández and MacLean,  and their skill at evoking a mood, an emotional rendering almost of an image of the Spanish coast, a beach and blue sea at twilight, with a great album for anytime but especially appreciated in the midst of the salt-dusted winter wasteland I'm in right now.

Amor de Dias (photo by Alfredo Arias Horas)

Amor de Dias (photo by Alfredo Arias Horas)

The House At Sea by Amor de Dias is out now from Merge Records.

A digital download was provided for review.