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Lucy Bland: 'Sea Level'

Lucy Bland:  Katie Mosehauer (from left), Todd Wallar, Tim Stedman, Cat Biell.  Anil Seth appears in the framed picture at right.
Lucy Bland: Katie Mosehauer (from left), Todd Wallar, Tim Stedman, Cat Biell. Anil Seth appears in the framed picture at right.

Lucy Bland's debut, full-length release, Down to Sea Level, is a soul-warming balm for the endlessly rainy days of their hometown Seattle, Wash. Delicate, electronic beeps and pops mingle with melodic strings and singer Cat Biell's cozy vocals. It's the sonic equivalent of lazing in a gently swaying hammock, under a cloudless day at the beach.

Down to Sea Level is a sort of framed narrative, opening and closing with two metaphoric tales of life by the ocean. On the first cut, "Sea Level," Biell uses wordplay as she reflects on growing older, but wiser. "I can see level. I can think level, now that you've shown me how."

"It's an (almost) anthem about regaining steadiness and a level head," says Lucy Bland electronics programmer Todd Wallar. "Like a lot of our older material, Cat (Biell) brought it to the band as a nearly complete song on guitar. I added some beats, gave it a more electronic sound with some cutup beeps and blips, added an instrumental break. Then the whole band worked on the arrangement of the strings and keyboard textures."

Down to Sea Level closes with "Crashing Waves." It's one of several songs on the album that meditates on the universal search for love, as Biell sings, "It's rough out there. You are the crashing waves changing my direction."

In addition to Biell and Wallar, Lucy Bland features Tim Stedman on keys, accordion and trombone, and Katie Mosehauer on violin. The band recently added drummer Chris Icasiano. Anil Seth plays cello on Down to Sea Level. The group just finished its first tour down the West coast and says they're busy working on new material.

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This review originally ran on May 7, 2008.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Robin Hilton is a producer and co-host of the popular NPR Music show All Songs Considered.
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