Babeland

An Album By

The Woodsman's Babe

Review by

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Artists can adopt any number of mediums to share their talents and help get across their message. The Woodsman’s Babe, the moniker used by former MyChildren MyBride bassist Joe Lengson for his solo work, chose monochromatic melencholia and soft haunting vocals to paint his canvases.

Much like his debut self-titled release last year, Lengson chose to stick to an airy, ambient style on the sophomore release. His vocal range rarely leaves his comfort zone, or, at least, what he’s putting forward as such; he occupied the same relative space for the duration of the album. Lyrically, as well, as he often seemed distant and lost in memories of the past. Consequently, Babeland is mostly a memoir of what used to be.

He shares nostalgic moments of deep love in “Confused” and promptly drowns his sorrows in “Anxious” on the realization the physical closeness vanishes. The latter is an ode to inebriation accompanied by an intro with more texture and weight than the totality of the album itself. Many of the tracks, like “Love Story,” “The City,” “Fretful” and “Goodbye Elizabeth” are artfully arranged and contain some truly fascinating instrumental work.

There were a couple of questionable inclusions, however. “Les Mis Songs” feels like taking a trip into a retro soap opera and living in sepia tone wearing an oversized beanie and flannel; in moderation, these things might be intriguing or enjoyable, but combined in such heavy layers, the tropes become inescapable and tough to bear. In the same vein, one might include the lackadaisical lyrics of “The City,” which, although great in presentation, lost quality for the resulting unpoetic mess.

Conversely, “Laura” is a modern day take on the classic love song. It’s pleasant and feels more like a perfect day on the lake with the sound of lapping water and acoustic prose. The relaxing, lazy atmosphere created on the track made Laura the greatest gal (and track) in Babeland. With songs like “Laura,” Lengson shows the capability of fabricating desirable songs. Were Babeland richer in content of this quality, the album would undoubtedly have met success on a grander scale.

With its musical variation and constant soothing underscore, the final track “Window Sill” is the summation of this album, a song which seems made to share as easy listening with a contemporary twist. In its innovative composition of classic and modern instrumentation, Babeland is a piece of work that, at times, has an air of class that makes it both strange and beautiful. Lengson delivered direct imagery and atmospheric whimsy very well, so if one is looking for a momentary escape from their own reality, this album is an invitation to enter into a story of a love long lost but not forgotten without the burden of experiencing it firsthand. Unfortunately, the album, as a whole, settles down on the side of anti-climactic and broadly uncompelling.