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Civil Twilight
Civil Twilight
Wind-Up Records
www.civiltwilightband.com


Rarely do I get the chance to sit down for a good last.fm session, but recently I had the chance to spend a few hours to really experience all that the station has to offer. While on my session I came across one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard. "Human" is the kind of song that literally stops you in your tracks. It's purely a man and his piano, but the voice from that man is entrancing in a love ballad, lullaby, violin solo, kind of way. Now I've got your attention. This song comes from a band called Civil Twilight and little did I know that when I heard that one song that an entire album full of songs that are equal to, if not surpassing, the amazing level was already set for release.

Wind-Up records have snagged the self-titled release and they couldn't have picked a better band. Favorites on the album run all the way through, but I'll narrow it down to a few. "Soldier" is kind of an entertaining look at a subject that could easily be depressing; War and all that goes with it is the ever popular topic being discussed here, however with Civil, the tone is set to almost peppy. Even with lyrics like "I'm just a soldier, fighting for someone else" you still think that you'd come away from this song angry or depressed, but rather, the end leaves you tapping your feet, banging your head and maybe just a touch of booty shakin'. Down a few is a song that would clock in at second on the Favorite Scale (under "Human"). "Letters From The Sky" starts off almost the exact same as "Human," solemn and beautiful in a simplistic way. Those amazing vocals and the same piano lead you in for the first minute or so. And if you want lyrics that stick with you, then listen to, "One of these days the letters are gonna fall from the sky, telling us all go free". Sure they seem like nothing special, but when laid atop a couple guitars that seem to linger in the background in an almost eerie way, they transform the song and you. Now, those guitars don't really make their presence completely known until about 3/4 way through the song, but when they come out the emotions just explode. "Cause we won't have to be scared!" is screamed from the bottom of Steven's (lead vocals) gut. The rest of the band goes on superdrive, playing so insanely fast I don't know how they don't just pass out when everything subsides and the vocals whisper out to finish the song. One of the most interesting and intriguing guitar lead-ins can be heard at the beginning of "Trouble." The guitar isn't exactly being strummed, or if it is, it's in a way that's not normally heard. It's soft and loud at the same time. Soft, in that you don't hear the strings vibrating or flapping about, yet the sound resonates so strongly through the headphones. It's that intriguing effect that keeps you locked into this song for the entire 5:28.

"Human" comes in at the 7 spot and is just over four minutes of perfection. Why this hasn't been picked up on a mass scale, i.e movies or TV, I do not know. "It's only love, it's only pain, it's only fear that runs through my veins/It's all the things you can't explain, that make us human" are lyrics that lend themselves to poetry so easily. "Perfect Stranger" would come in at #3 on my Scale, but on the album it conveniently comes in after "Human." If "Soldier" was the peppy, booty shakin' song, then this song is the dark and ominous one of the album. I particularly like the bass role that sort of sneaks and slithers in, gradually building so that by the end of it all, you have a new found favorite instrument. Right in the middle is an amazing break, a few moments with the drums playing Jamaican style and a lead guitar that gently caresses its notes. You only get this time between you and the drums for a mere moment, because then the superdrive button is hit again and you're almost literally thrown out of song and out on your rear end.

You pick yourself up off the ground and sit on the rocking chair to enjoy the last song on the album "Quiet In My Town." I think I would call this song a life ballad. It's not about the long lost love of your high school sweetheart. Rather, it's about the loss and reality that sometimes is life. It's just as beautiful as "Human" but in its own unique way.

From the first listen of "Human" I would've been happy with a single song. That was until I heard the entire album. There are so many levels to this band and so many bits of their brilliance that draw you into each song individually and don't let go. Do they tug on your heart strings? Not really. More they burrow a way into your subconscious, leaving memoirs of life, love and the essence of being human.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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