Album: Rambling Coast

Artist: Hello Atlantic

Skip To: Seasons

I take the internet so often for granted. However, it is quite a testament to its greatness that I can, with very little effort, enjoy the superb compositions of Hello Atlantic, an artist who lives and writes halfway across the planet. This acoustic gem is recorded and mixed so cleanly, especially considering it is independently produced. Its lovely, organic sound caught my attention immediately.

Rambling Coast begins with the soft “Mad Verses.” The guitar part echoes throughout and contrasts the clearly defined vocals. The pace and energy pick up in “Rambling Coast” and “Animals of Dusk,” tracks that introduce the striking, complex guitar strum patterns that mark the album. Also characteristic of the songs are unconventional chord progressions that make the potentially simple acoustic music far more complex and surprising. Classical-style guitar dominates the reflective “Windy City Blues” as high guitar notes simultaneously contrast and complement the vocals. Hello Atlantic does a stunning job getting the vocals and the instrumentation to interact, rather than treating the vocals as somewhat separated from the instruments as many songs do, and this theme continues throughout “Seasons.”

“Faster Than Rain” is quite contrary to the rest of the album in that lyrics very much take a backseat to the music. The voice echoes in the background of a lovely plucked string instrument, but jumps back to the foreground in “Skylash.” Though it begins by echoing eerily, it switches suddenly halfway through the song to a harder, more defined tone. “The Burrow” returns to a similar feel to “Windy City Blues,” but to a different effect due to its minor quality. It crescendos throughout however, and plays through a stunning, upbeat guitar solo before quietly giving way to “Travel Light.” The song has a distinct sojourning feel as harmonica and a marching drum provide direction toward’s the album’s conclusion. “Sweet Watchtower” is somewhat an anomaly on the album: its backbone is piano instead of guitar and it is by far the longest track. But it is nevertheless an incredible piece, with its echoing, flowing chords and a conclusion that feels like a “farewell.”

In every song, the lyrics are highly poetic and filled with some of the most creative imagery I have ever heard in song lyrics. While I don’t know the exact meaning behind each track, the lyrics seem to perpetuate two themes: feeling unable to establish roots and a desire to leave the past behind. Structurally, the lyrics are unique as well. Few songs have a set chorus but instead, they roll naturally through the verses, adding to the unique nature of the music. Rambling Coast is musically and lyrically intelligent and designs the acoustic sound complexly.