From the very first verse of The Story: “I’m the girl outside your window painted blue/who holds the shadows, waves goodbye, and shelters you…” to that of Into the World “He spoke you into the world on the edge of his tongue…,” Blue Transmissions: Vol 1 wraps you into a lovely cocoon of eclectic sound not easily pressed into any genre while bearing the mark of this special collaboration of vocals, cello, bass, acoustic guitar, and drums.
Blue Transmissions: Vol 1 is a new EP (dropped December 8th) from a new group, Halie and the Moon. They hit my radar because of my love for Halie Loren’s velvet voice. Along with Ms. Loren (vocals & piano), they consist of Katherine Dudney (cello & background vocals) – to get a sense of Ms. Dudney’s talent, check out her original composition, River, Bobby Stevens (bass & background vocals), Daniel Gallo (acoustic guitar) and Beau Eastlund (drums). Both Messrs. Gallo and Eastlund previously collaborated with Ms. Loren on Butterfly Blue (one of my favorite albums) and were members together in Concrete Loveseat (it seems that the Eugene music scene is close knit). While, along with Ms. Loren’s voice, it is Ms. Dudney’s cello that colors the unique sound they produce, the band melds so well that you would think they’ve been together for years. This is evident from how well they play very different types of songs in the jazz/pop of The Story to the ethereal ballad of Winter, the jazz/funk of Breathe and the folk/pop of Into the World. Listening to them fuse together the musical backdrop of the story given in Into the World is particularly mesmerizing.
Like a butterfly leaving its cocoon (OK, I couldn’t resist), Halie and the Moon is a new creation unlike any of the individual artists in it but making them, together, greater than the sum of their parts. That being said, The Story is more reminiscent of Ms. Loren’s sound on previous records, including Butterfly Blue, than the other songs here. The bouncy beat, turn of phrase and lit of voice all harken back to previous work (which is lovely), yet there is this undercurrent of bass beat, strings, and guitar that are the hallmark of the new collaborative sound they bring together. That bounce meshes well with the upbeat lyrics: “Well it’s high time that we stumbled to the city/don’t need a dime if we shine up all our pennies/A highwire and an umbrella make a new day/somersaulting to the faces on the subway…”
The band has emphasized their offering of Winter in a music video:
They’ve done so for good reason. Ms. Loren’s honied-voice combines perfectly the dream-like quality of the song with its poetic lyrics:
Love, won’t you sing a lullaby?
White, naked as the winter snow…
Hey, can we give another try?
It’s time to make our way home.
It’s time to be alone, time to hide away now
Time to keep a love alight inside – every love alight… Love, can we find the other side
of this night, woven with a silver hope?
I love the drum and bass beat intro into Breathe, the slide of the cello throughout and the interesting word-images it employs: “Don’t you feel like a homeless balloon/In someone else’s song?/And you play along” They delightfully frame the piece with their musical phrasing in a slight piano/cello interlude before it breaks back into: “Breathe now, baby/Let the constellations take you/And all and all the everything/Is hanging on an ether swing…”
In some ways, Into the World is my favorite song in an EP filled with delights. I love portraiture in words and this builds its pictorial narrative perfectly through music and verse. The vignette of their relationship opens with an acapella line: “He spoke you into the world/On the edge of his tongue…” It later fuses together voice, piano and string on the simple world of “You.” The theme is wonderfully repeated while transmuting into something new: “He wrote you into the blue/On the edges of the sky,” much like the relationship and person described. Finally, it ends, full circle, acapella, with that same line: “He spoke you into the world.”
My only complaint about Blue Transmission is that it is a four song EP and not a 12 (or more!) song full album. I clearly appreciate the effort it takes to produce something like this but do look forward to hearing more from this group. It is a delightful collaboration. So, if you’re looking for something new to play on that new smartphone, those new headphones or other musical accouterment from Christmas, look no further than Blue Transmissions. I highly commend it to you for your listening pleasure.