One From Many – 29.11
Taking a title from a Biblical verse, the implications behind their band’s name, and even the briefest of reading through press about this Portland, Oregon based band might discourage novice listeners. Is this another bubblegum Christian band with stellar production values and the lyrical complexity of a modern mainstream country song? Are they trying to save souls? Even one run-through of the band’s latest EP release, 29.11, reveals a band of surprising depth, enormous sensitivity, and a refreshing lack of Bible-thumping. They imply their spiritual leanings, perhaps, in the wafting, dream-like musical textures surrounding the band’s acoustic-based attack, but spare you the sermons. Instead, the five superb songs compromising 29.11 deal with eternal truths of a different sort – the constant tugging and wrestling between two human hearts and the disappointments that sometimes result.
It’s a collection about journeys as well. “Like a Ghost” opens the EP with an account of the absence and lingering regret over relationships that never quite materialize. The muted, otherworldly atmospherics of the song are the sonic equivalent of a haunting. Melody fills the song, but it seems incomplete, somehow not quite whole. “These Three Words” shares much of the same sonic blueprint, but takes a notable turn towards more commercial fare. One From Many possesses a clear penchant for recasting the personal as the universal without ever pandering to longstanding tropes. “Apology” feels like it needs a stronger melody to mitigate the relentless lyrical self-examination, but further listens reveal that it isn’t what its all about. Songwriters working to satisfy themselves first and prioritizing their audiences expectations as second run the risk of their personal experiences not connecting with a wider group. The audacity is clear and bracing; one cannot help but admire the risk and bravery involved in writing and committing such a song to “tape”.
“Promise Forever” is reminiscent of “These Three Words” thanks to its clear commercial thrust that, nevertheless, never cheapens the material. This is sophisticated stuff. One From Many aims for a fully integrated sound capable of planting its flag in an assortment of genres. There’s a strong folk strain in this acoustic track, but One From Many peppers the musical mix with a subtle instrumental voices and variations. The EP’s closer “Afterglow” best embodies the distant, dreamy grace driving the material. The patient tempo and gossamer melodic swirl is the sound of last rites performed over a dead relationship with the song’s narrator left with memories and lingering emotions he still struggles to make sense of.
It’s a poignant ending to a memorable release. One From Many are obviously a band intent on plumbing into the truth of our human experience and doing so in a musically substantive fashion. The outstanding production highlights that they understand the value of a first rate presentation and the construction and depth of the material reveals a band far beyond their chronological years. 29.11 will move many listeners, new and old fans alike, and provides strong evidence of the band’s growing potential.
8 out of 10 stars.