Austin Crane is the epitome of the modern musician. For him, music is both necessary and collateral, so to speak. It provides a soundtrack to his life and a way to find meaning, as he navigates life with his wife. When The Day Leaves narrates of them moving from Seattle, where Austin has obtained a PhD in human geography, to native South Carolina, and of all the feelings and thoughts connected to that.
Listening to the record brings back to the days of folk revival, when the Valley Maker project was born, around the end of the 2000s. Austin has never wanted to really distinguish himself in terms of sound and style, and surely this album fits the picture of an indie-folk record, albeit with Americana tinges.
Lead single “No One Is Missing” has Fleet Foxes arrangements; “Instrument” is a pretty conventional alt-country number. This is actually refreshing, as Austin clings to the idea that music should be first and foremost about songwriting, and this new record does not fail in this respect, at least conceptually.
This is an album that is indeed enjoyable, though only few of the tracks do really sparkle: apart from the beautifully droning “No One Is Missing”, the final title track is one of them, with its Bon Iver vibes. Otherwise, Austin’s songwriting can sound formulaic at times, as in “Pine Trees” (despite the nice flute arrangements), or in somehow heavy-handed “On A Revelation”.
Despite everything, though, this is definitely an album that deserves a few spins.
When the day leaves is out now via French Kiss.