The Lumineers – Brightside
The Lumineers’ first new album in over two years and their second Grammy Award-nominated work, Brightside is an inspiring fusion of blues, folk, country, world music and rock. It is performed by Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz, and co-produced by Simone Felice and David Baron (also mixing, engineering), and includes Baron on keyboards and backup vocals by Baron, Lauren Jacobson, Simone Felice, Cindy Mizelle (Dave Matthews Band, Bruce Springsteen), Diana Demuth and James Felice.
Comprised of Americana road songs, combining sadness and optimism, the work is primarily an ode to love. The title track Brightside’s powerful rock beat, with its hint of the Stones, is infused with driving energy. Recorded in one day, it is a poetic, upbeat song about paramours on the run, and a celebration of the romantic, its overriding theme that we are saved by our devotion to one another.
AM Radio is “about the supernatural pull of one’s calling in life” (Schultz). With evocative solo vocals and poignant, delicate acoustic guitar licks in counterpoint with powerful piano chords and “the biggest chorus we’ve ever recorded”, the folk-inspired tune is at once passionate and serenely pensive.
A near-deadly car crash involving Schultz and his girlfriend Brandy motivated the album’s third piece, Where We Are, an expression of gratitude for being alive and of positivity amid trouble. Channeling Bruce Springsteen, the song’s beautiful piano chords flow and undulate while the lyrics cry out with hope and a heartrending appreciation for life. Following it is the sentimental Birthday, a lovely acoustic folk ballad with a hint of the Beatles and uplifting vocalisations that convey a childlike innocence.
The 90s-inspired whimsical, soulful and wistful Big Shot, featuring gentle piano and moody voice, is a comment on the subjectivity of human nature: “We’re all big shots in our own story” (Schultz). Track six, Never Really Mine, with soaring vocals and guitar, is a moving, feverish country rock ballad.
Another piece echoing Springsteen, Rollercoaster opens with soft piano, a waltz-like tempo, then subtly intensifies with gorgeous, rich, rounded keyboard notes and melancholy country-style singing. Next Remington, with mellow guitar, rhythmic pulse like a heartbeat and stirring vocals, is thoughtful and gripped with emotion – it speaks to the traumatised but eternally hopeful.
Finally sensual, evocative rock characterises Reprise, described by the artists as a reference to the other tracks, bringing the record full circle thematically. The concept was achieved spontaneously through improvisation: “When you leave everything up to chance these cool things can happen” (Schultz).
The album’s poetic and compelling music and lyrics are clearly intuitive while simultaneously superbly and skilfully composed. Thought-provoking, soul-stirring and slightly nostalgic, Brightside is also positive and hopeful.
Brightside is released on 14th January 2022. For further information or to order the album visit The Lumineers’s website here.
Watch a live performance of Birthday here: