Sometimes to find your path, you need to get away. There’s truth in the belief that your surroundings influence your state of mind, your thoughts, your experiences, your way of living. Harking back to the very foundations of Lostboycrow, when Chris Blair uprooted life from Portland to Los Angeles, he found his calling. En route he picked up a few friends who he often collaborates with, and a community of fans that are as invested in the music as much as its creator is. After some successful years releasing singles and a collection of EPs turned album, the artist was ready to start thinking bigger.
Mirroring the transient nature of his life, Lostboycrow’s second full-length moves away from the established sounds of his discography into a deeply resonant, evolved state of creative exploration. And no, this wasn’t a ‘difficult’ second album attempt to reinvent one’s self in a new creative light. No, this would be a misunderstanding of Lostboycrow’s purpose entirely, in fact, the record is more serious than that. As a vehicle for self-introspection and creative inquiry, Santa Fe is a sonic visualisation of the artist’s journey: past, present and future. Aiding and spurring this creative shift, the capital city of New Mexico: Santa Fe. Hopping a few states over from his homebase in California, the artist and a few friends rented a secluded spot in Santa Fe which proved to be invigorating, inspiring and a transforming experience.
Within the 13-track Santa Fe, are songs that speak on a base level to who we are as people; questions of identity, our relationships with others, spiritual connection, time and place build a vibrant, multi-dimensional landscape for the artist to uncover truths, explore memories and weave new stories. While we hear musical growth, the richly innate eloquence of Lostboycrow’s writing is still beautifully prevalent, he sings with meaning and emotional depth, and never forgets the significance of a symbolic lyric or the use of evocative sentiment.
Santa Fe opens with ‘Map‘ – a track which feels distinctly singular from the rest of the album and likely sequenced in this way on purpose. Lyrically, sonically and vocally it is a patchwork of meaningful yet oddly disparate signifers. Articulating concerns about the injustices of the world whilst recognizing that we live in a society where we romantice self-interest and commercial gain, Lostboycrow paints a sombre picture. Structurally even, it’s bold and unconventionally arranged, zoning stark gospel bars next to electro bass, programmed harp and flute sounds, the recognition of dislocation continues to amplify when the musical bed reshapes around a spoken word piece from featured performer, Taran Kootenhayoo. The concept of ‘Map’ is ambitious and the follow through is decisively potent, like an avante-garde protest, more than ever it’s important that voices speak up. Change starts as a whisper…
Earworming in, ‘Orange Juice‘ is a touch of breezy indie pop – cut with guitar delay and ripple and reverse effects, the whole track feels woozy and imaginative. It definitely lies on the sweeter end of proceedings. ‘Stargazing with Patrick Bateman‘ isn’t as nefarious as the title may suggest, actually it’s a low key rumination driven by voice and gentle oscillating electronics. Beautiful. ‘Santa Fe‘ winds back the clock while standing rooted in the present, a personal reflection that tosses between nostalgic reminiscing and stream of consciousness confessional. A dreamy band-centric composition to get lost in and a great example of Lostboycrow’s growing curiosity with analogue dynamics.
‘Passing Through‘ sets up ‘Suburban Girl,’ introing its dominant refrain and melodic sensibility. Simple but really comforting in a romantic ‘everything happens for a reason’ sort of way, the youthful love lost theme is easily relatable and the husky vocal, rhyming word play and idyllic soundscape just makes the track even easier to love. ‘Violet Sky‘ stays in high school mode but this time around there’s a sting in the tail, affirmative on the dramatic transition / breakdown (and listen in for the epic song title reference drop, full circle).
‘Waste of Time‘ is an excellent reverberation of teamwork, Bea Miller features and brings just the right amount of fire to the track. Both voices create scintillating sensations on their own but together they soar. A superb left-of-centre pop tune, one that would take over the charts with a click of a finger. ‘Cody in the Valley‘ sees Lostboycrow adopt a particularly breathtaking baritone alongside his signature breathier tones, it’s a slowly unfolding number but one that uses layers and texture to wowing effect. Nothing groundbreaking here but the emotional build and satisfying pitch variations accompanied by choral and harmonic resonance is pretty sweet. Don’t underestimate the underdog.
‘San Junipero‘ takes the acoustic guitar and turns its strums into an anthemic singalong, wistfully euphoric with the promise of future contentment in reach Lostboycrow’s equiste croon and swelling, overlapping backing vocals and harmonies make this a real treat. ‘27 (Sad Signs)‘ is another retrospective tune, like the subsequent ‘Suburban Home‘ which relaxes back into soulful R&B for a pleasing storytelling moment. But ’27 (Sad Signs)’ is the highlight, a clear single, blissfully infectious and profusely fragrant in sonic terms, although lyrically the opposite; it longs, it hopes and never quite finds its conclusion but that’s okay, the journey is worth it. The way the lyrics refer to memory and tie the events into the present proves Lostboycrow’s writing talent, a delicious adventure.
Culminating the record and bringing all of its themes full circle, ‘Since the Day I Was Born‘ is a kaleidoscope meshing Lostboycrow, the artist and Chris Blair, the person. About reconnecting with the past, celebrating the present and what’s still ahead. A piece of sincerity to bring it all home, figuratively and literally.
Santa Fe explores the most rudimentary aspects of human existence (a person’s relationship with the self, family, a partner, the past, the present, the future, their hopes, dreams, fears) in a clean, compelling illustration of melody, harmonics and riffery. A departure in every sense, the road travelled to get here was long but we determine, definitely worth the drive. If perspective is linked to state of mind and state of mind is linked to mood and general outlook, then the clarity Santa Fe brought forth in Lostboycrow can only be considered an act of perfect synchronicity.
Lostboycrow’s Santa Fe is out now – available to Stream/Purchase here.