One of my favorite records of last year was The Dead Will Walk, Dear, the gentle and haunted folk debut from The National Lights. Lead singer/songwriter Jacob Berns’ songs about love and murder had simple and sublime arrangements that seemed to purposefully contrast the startling beauty of the music and the shocking violence of his stories. The production ear behind the album belonged to Chris Kiehne - who produced, arranged, and played many of the instruments on it. Kiehne also produced the debut from Sonya Cotton last year, Out Of The Ocean, which was another album filled with pretty folk songs and gorgeous harmonies.
After so much work helping to record his friends, Chris has finally decided to focus on his own music. He has been planning his debut album for about 5 years now, writing many of the songs that were intended for Pray For Daylight way back in 2003. Unfortunately, as he was finishing up the recording process a few weeks ago his hard drive crashed, leaving him with completed versions of only half his intended 10 songs. Not wanting to start over on a batch of songs that were so old already, Kiehne decided it best to take what was left and release it as a free EP on his myspace before looking forward.
So, Pray For Daylight has essentially become his lost record. Not many artists can claim that for their debut. The songs themselves recall the work he has already done with his friends - as you’d expect being that Cotton once again delivers some beautiful harmonies, and he and Berns have practically grown up together as songwriters. But where The Dead Will Walk, Dear was essentially a very pretty record about killing your girlfriend, Pray For Daylight acts almost as its opposite - here there is a sense of trying to protect her from something. While it surely would have made for a terrific full length, the 5 songs saved for this EP satisfy nonetheless as a seamless collection, introducing the world to another special talent in the Americana genre.
MP3 :: Diomedea
MP3 :: A Special Providence
(from Pray For Daylight. Listen here)