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Eisley: A Daze Of Heartbroken Uncertainty

In "The Valley," Eisley opens a door and lets a hidden world swing into view.
Chris Phelps
Courtesy of the artist
In "The Valley," Eisley opens a door and lets a hidden world swing into view.

As easy as it's been to characterize Eisley's music by the shimmering, looking-glass elements that effervesce on the surface, there's always a muscularity lurking just beneath. That robustness is the heartbeat running through the band's new album The Valley, whose title track is the sound of a door opening, allowing a hidden world to swing into view.

Singer Stacy Dupree walks straight through it, wandering restlessly in a daze of heartbroken uncertainty. The addition of strings to the quintet's lineup doesn't sweeten Eisley's attack; it deepens it. Better still, it's not until the full band comes in immediately following the first verse — with piano, two guitars, a rhythm section and wordless vocals operating in both harmony and counterpoint — that the effect is complete. As it turns out, the strings aren't doing the real heavy lifting.

It's there that "The Valley" skirts lighter-than-foam inconsequentiality; it's got weight and density. But it also has a tilt in the second line of the chorus, where the entire song shifts on its axis and suddenly isn't where it seemed to be headed. Dupree sounds lost but never is, righting the chorus at the end when she finishes her thought with the slyly fitting "...till everything is fine." The loss of bearings in between isn't for its own sake, though. Instead, it seems like the only way the song could have gone. And, having been upended once, Eisley knows to be all the warier, even as it presses on.

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Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.
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