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Paper Lights

What is it that makes Paper Lights music intriguing in both verse and sound? What makes them stand out from the many good groups in the Atlanta band scene and, for that matter, in alternative pop/rock in general? Other groups have passion. Other groups have good vocals. While it’s never easy to fully articulate how some groups stand out, for Paper Lights, it seems to be a rare combination of the overall band chemistry with great vocals combined with well-crafted songs whose themes seem to come back to withstanding the pressures of this world to live authentically.


Paper Lights consist of Dan Synder (Vocals/Keyboard), Melanie Annabelle (Vocals, Glock), Jonathan Kimsey (Drums/Percussion), Jacob McCarthy (Electric Guitar), Tim Friesen (Bass Guitar) & Josh Stewart (Keyboard/Percussion). If I had to give a one statement description of their sound, they’re a little like Coldplay meets Civil Wars but heavily on the Coldplay side. However, like all such statements, it’s inadequate. They have a nicely resonant sound where the various musical elements overlap; they’re a bit heavier on the percussion and keyboard side than some with a sort of meditative touch. It’s a lovely combination.


Their songs pull you in on multiple levels: we fight for what we love, we hold fast to our identity and we hold fast to each other. The lyrics suggests that the while “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” may sting, may make us want to give up, we need to hold fast to what’s important. For example, if we look at On Your Way from the Caverns EP, you have a sense of a relationship gone wrong where one person is seeking another who has left. That, however, is only the outside – the relationship was already bereft of genuineness and being able to see past the facade puts us on our way to living authentically:

did you come to find me
did you wait to see that I was gone
did you even notice
that I was missing
did you make a promise
one that only I could keep

is your mind a fortress
overcome for a life long
did you even notice
that I was missing

you’re on your way
you’re on your way
from temporary shells that cover you
you’re on your way
giving back what you could never loose
you’re on your way
purpose in the places that you choose
you’re on your way
pulling back the vail to see the view

This theme takes a personal twist in Never Let You Go. We hold fast to each other and never let go even in the midst of pain. We fight for the love we have for another.


Leading through the darkness, I feel you
You never let my head fall down, even when it hurt you too
I am like a tree, losing all it’s leaves
But winter turns to Spring, I hope in the eventually

I’m never gonna let you go
I’m gonna fight for your love, I’m gonna give you more

Even when it hurts to breathe
Even if you’ve lost your dreams
Even when your hope is weak
Even when it had to be

For a final example, let’s look at the single, Berlin. with its reference to the fall of the Berlin wall but also to our own walls; it’s about those outside of us who want to control us – they ultimately can’t – we can’t let them.




I have a dream, that these walls
would lose their shadows, feel them fall
catch the pulse, hold it and connect it
falling bombs can’t resurrect them

I have a home inside this cage
you hold me tightly, keep me safe
in the dark days I depended on this place
now I resent it

turn your eyes, turn your eyes up
this order was cracked from the ground up
see it fall as you wake up
turn your eyes, turn your eyes up

the dust will fall
we’ll see it all
you couldn’t hold the Berlin wall
can’t shake our bones
with the stones you throw
you’ve lost control

There is something in the chemistry of this group that brings out a soulful, passionate sound that is appealing. Coupling that to these amazing songs that look at the many challenges life throws at us and say “Fight On” I love one of the quotes on Youtube for Never Let You Go:

Drew Kaiser –
Absolutely stunning. Thank you for pushing the bounds and creating real art. From the melodies, arrangements, angles and filters this whole thing is fantastic. Congratulations guys.

I couldn’t say it better myself. I encourage you to get Berlin and Caverns (both available on iTunes & Amazon as well as XBox Music, Beats Music and Spotify). If you’re an Amazon Prime customer, the Caverns EP is available as part of Prime music. Keep your eye on Paper Lights; I’m excited to see what happens next. They’re currently touring in FL & GA