Chicago-based experimental folk outfit Magical Beasts recently released a new album, entitled Yes, My Love, I am Reaching.
Commenting on the album, the band says, “This album is full of love songs and devotional music. There is a fair amount of sexual imagery so there is no mistaking the type of devotion we are speaking about with a religion, and while not religious, nor is it purely sexual. The dynamics between Love, Sex, deep Yearning, and various forms of Union are for the listener to parse out themselves. The release is very much intended to be listened to around the time of the Winter Solstice, and is very much a Winter record.”
Piloted by Nathan Paulus (vocals, guitar), Magical Beasts also comprises Josh Miller (vocals, bass), and John Herbst (vocals, banjo, ukulele); the trio forms the nucleus of the group, adding various Chicago musicians as collaborators. Joining the core trio on this album are: Matt Carroll (drums), Ethan Pikas (pedal steel, dobro, banjo), Jess McIntosh (vocals, violin), Sharon Hoyer (vocals), Katie Stimpson (vocals), and Joseph Dittman (Fender Rhodes).
Embracing six-tracks, the album begins with “Come Find Me,” opening on a gentle guitar backed by a trembling bassline, and topped by measured vocal harmonies exuding drawling tender colors. A crying steel guitar infuses the tune with wistful melancholic textures, as the harmonics ebb and flow with low-slung sustained pulsations.
“Come to me / Come to me love / Walk with me / Walk with me love.”
Highlights on the album include “Darling,” which travels on a softly strumming guitar capped by soothing vocals that gather intensity and sensual fragrance as the harmonics swell with gradually escalating resonance and volume, until the music glows with coruscating energy, forming a brilliantly gorgeous love song.
“Little Buds” changes the albums trajectory, adding twangy down-home folk flavors rife with hints of bluegrass. A delicious banjo and strings give the tune sprightly hoedown hues riding glistening, lambent tones.
The final track, “Farthest Shore” features a slowly meandering melody, drifting and dreamy, as the vocals, low and hushed, glide overhead. As the music enlarges, scrumptious female vocal harmonies infuse the tune with tantalizing filaments of color, elongated and sylph-like. This track is my favorite because of its floating feel and luscious yearning flow.
Marvelously wrought, Yes, My Love, I am Reaching is a musical work of art, indulgent and chock-full of silky hovering timbres.