I once asked a buddy for a restaurant recommendation in Florence, Italy. He emailed back the name of a place with a comment about their truffles, saying “they are earthy and divine.”‚ I never expected a guy that funneled beers with me in college to talk about truffles let alone use that phrase, but by happenstance, this random phrase is how I’d describe Midlake’s latest release, The Courage Of Others. Earthy. And devine.
It’s also a perfect album for the winter season. It’s sound is heavily influenced by 60′s British prog-folk-rock with mystical lyrics, flute accompaniments and melancholy themes. It’s not an album you want to throw on at your next party, but it immediately gave me the urge to walk through a damp, foggy forest in solitude.
So that’s what I did. I put in the headphones and, for the first time, hiked to the top of Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.‚ It was the site of furious Civil War battles that claimed the lives of more than 5,000 soldiers. Hearing these somber songs while walking past cannon emplacements and preserved earthworks in this battlefield of ghosts made the early morning hike extremely eerie. As I approached the summit, “The Courage of Others” began to play with lines:
How can they have the courage?
Of lords that have long since past.
It’s in their hands. It’s their heads.
It’s been in their blood for many years and brings them sorrow.
In a dark room he trembles alone. He trembles alone.
It was a moving experience and I don’t think the moment’s gravity would have been felt without Midlake providing the backdrop. I captured a picture on my phone:
I’m aware that this isn’t a typical album review, but this is one of those albums that must be experienced. There is no standout single like “Roscoe” on 2006′s outstanding The Trials of Van Occupanther but The Courage of Others is a better body of work than it’s predecessor. It’s available on eMusic if you’re a subscriber. No mp3′s have been released, but there’s a little player below for sampling.