Sleeping at Last – Atlas: Intelligence – We were designed to send mixed signals.

2017_SleepingatLast_AtlasIntelligenceArtist: Sleeping at Last
Album: Atlas: Intelligence EP
Year: 2017
Grade: B+

In Brief: Three songs about the body, heart, and mind, in Sleeping at Last’s expected baroque pop style. The electronic pulses and plethora of subtle sounds working in tandem on “Mind” are an excellent touch, but aside from that, there’s not much new here.

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Sleeping at Last – Atlas: Emotions – For in our great sorrow, we learn what joy means.

2016_sleepingatlast_atlasemotionsArtist: Sleeping at Last
Album: Atlas: Emotions EP
Year: 2016
Grade: A-

In Brief: While the lyrics do a great job of explaining the inner workings of each human emotion, the music doesn’t always live up to the emotion being expressed. It’s still a worthwhile and intriguing new entry in the Atlas series, but it’s more of a study than an actual experience of emotion.

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The Gray Havens – Ghost of a King: One day your heart will make it home.

2016_TheGrayHavens_GhostofaKingArtist: The Gray Havens
Album: Ghost of a King
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: Some subtle (for the most part) electronic touches and more of a focus on keyboard and layered arrangements add a fair amount of drama to the duo’s very warm, relateable style of storytelling. At times they can overplay their hand and come across a bit cheesy, and I still wish they were a true vocal duo rather than just a guy with his wife on backing vocals, but this is still an improvement on the folk-pop sound they established on Fire & Stone.

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Andrew Bird – Are You Serious: I wanna cut to the quick, this is all non-fiction.

2016_AndrewBird_AreYouSeriousArtist: Andrew Bird
Album: Are You Serious
Year: 2016
Grade: B

In Brief: While Bird’s unique blend of violin, guitar, whistling, and live looping still has a tendency to hint at brilliance more often than he actually demonstrates it, the solid string of performances at the front of this album and the intriguing songwriting throughout remind me why he’s continued to pique my curiosity for over 10 years now.

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Andrew Peterson – The Burning Edge of Dawn: It’s only when the straight line breaks and heals a little crooked that you ever see the grace.

2015_AndrewPeterson_TheBurningEdgeofDawnArtist: Andrew Peterson
Album: The Burning Edge of Dawn
Year: 2015
Grade: B

In Brief: While not as bold of a musical statement as Light For the Lost Boy, it’s one of Peterson’s most honest and transparent records yet, a confessional and comforting work to help you get through those “dark nights of the soul”.

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Sleeping at Last – Atlas: Life – Our definition of perfect was written when you were born.

2015_SleepingatLast_AtlasLifeArtist: Sleeping at last
Album: Atlas: Life
Year: 2015
Grade: B+

In Brief: A shorter EP than SAL’s usual, but the lovely arrangements and unabashed sentimentality in the wake of Ryan’s daughter being born last year make it more than worthwhile. I only hope he picks up the pace in getting the rest of Atlas: Year Two done.

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