Augustana / Augustana / Sony
No stranger to pain stemming from intimacy, Augustana frontman Dan Layus has a way of making simple words speak. His poetic nature is rough around the edges but it has that boyish charm, the type you’d find in a lovesick musician opening up his heart so the one he’s wronged can realize he isn’t perfect. That quiet characteristic is what’s driven the San Deigo group for eight years. This time, the self-titled, self-composed release doesn’t mirror Midwest Skies.. or All The Stars And Boulevards; Augustana have aged, their sentimental fits are now tuned to winsome pop rock fiddling with bits and pieces of southern tones.
The lack of piano strikes, but not as much as Layus’ raspy vocal style etching a likeness of Brandon Flowers, who instead of gorging on the attraction of fame, is weary and incapable of cutting the string to his past. “I’ve been living with a hole in my heart,” the vocalist admits (“Shot In The Dark”) surrounded by an outburst of druggy keys and an orderly bass line. “Counting The Stars” barely smudges Augustana’s graceful output, dodging a barrage of OneRepublic contrasts, and flows into the roots-adjusted “Hurricane”. The shaky vocal transition does question the existence of these late-night, long-drive heartache radio ballads but they present a rarity for the group: a new comfort zone.
Download: “Just Stay Here Tonight”, “You Were Made For Me”
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