Thunder and Rain
Passing in the Night
A most pleasing recording, Thunder and Rain’s latest continues the acoustic Americana magic the Golden, Colorado-based group has shown over two previous albums and a couple EPs.
The quartet resides in that sweetest of spots, a natural sounding meeting of bluegrass, country, folk, and pop, more aggressive and grounded than several groups exploring similar ground. Lead singer (and principal writer and bandleader) Erinn Peet Lukes has a beautiful voice, and utilizes it well with her cohesive colleagues: think the lighter moments of Front Country, Centennial State neighbours FY5, or a bluegrass-infused version of Kacy & Clayton.
As important as Lukes’ voice is to the group, and it is central, her bandmates do their part and more. Contributions of Dobro players Chris Herbst and Allen Cooke are vital to these songs’ melodies, as is Dylan McCarthy’s mandolin. Bassist Ian Haegele adds rumbling notes throughout, most noticeably on appealing pieces like “Nobody’s Darlin’” and “Uncharted, Farewell.”
Lyrically, the album explores relationships and personal challenges; being honest, I didn’t monitor the lyrical threads of Passing in the Night as closely as I typically do. Lukes’ voice (she also plays guitar) works as a complementary instrument, defining spaces for the instruments to fill and tendrils for them to follow. Where she sings, “Pull up anchor” (in “Uncharted, Farewell”) I hear “Heartbreaker,” so yeah—I’ll just let the sounds wash over me without deep analysis.
“Two Ships” is straightforward—lyrically and melodically—and possesses as much drive as any song contained within. No surprise: it is the only track to feature 5-string, courtesy FY5’s Aaron Youngberg. Youngberg was at the desk for these sessions, with the band appearing to have had final decision-making on arrangements and production for this independently-released album.
“Run With You,” “House of Light,” and ”Walk Right Through the Door of My Heart” are additional standout numbers, the latter a muted, honky tonk lament. That’s just the first fifteen minutes of Passing in the Night, and the album doesn’t weaken over the remaining twenty-five: the album glimmers with charms revealed song-by-song.
Try not to love this pleasing release from Thunder and Rain. If you like acoustic sounds well-rooted in Americana traditions, you will fail.