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Lowland Hum

Lowland Hum – 2015 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Rick Bell

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CDs by Lowland Hum

The songwriting on Lowland Hum's sophomore effort isn't particularly clever; there are no self-penned folky anthems, rousing foot-stompers or new takes on old chestnuts. If it's jaw-dropping displays of folk musicianship you seek, look elsewhere; in fact, outside of Lauren Goans occasionally channeling folk-bluegrass songstress Sara Watkins, the vocals of this husband-and-wife duo aren't stirring or memorable.

Yet there's this compelling air about the new 13-song offering from North Carolina husband-and-wife duo Lauren and Daniel Goans. Maybe it's the subtlety, the straight-ahead lyrical honesty, the sum of these parts that gives Lowland Hum a down home yet sophisticated feel.

It also could be the personal intimacy they share with the listeners. The album's relative shortcomings can be overlooked knowing this is a thoughtful, romantic glimpse of a couple fulfilling each other's lives than hollering-from-the-rooftops crazy-mad I'm in love.

Not that either declaration is improper. There's a time and place for both, and the Goans appear to prefer the previous when writing and recording. And it's also done to sonics that conjure mellow nights and wine versus whiskey and one-night stands.

They venture into a more acoustic rock vibe with "Charleston" and "Olivia." But on the song "Lautrec," they offer their impressions of the fragilities of French impressionist Henri Toulouse Lautrec. While certainly an interesting ode to one of the world's great artists, the music tends to bog down and plod along. And then "Nightdriving" finds the pair drifting back into more familiar, traditional folk territory.

After several spins it's a challenge to single out a remarkable moment or define a standout song. Yet, it remains an extremely compelling listen. And it's refreshing to know that there's still a place for kindhearted romanticism in today's music.