December, 2001

Idaho, Levitate

When one thinks of Idaho the state, not much at all comes to mind. Potatoes maybe? To most people, Idaho is just, well, another state: quiet, unassuming and out-of-the-way. Idaho minds its own business. As to the music of Idaho the band, well that's where things get a little more interesting. Singer/songwriter/guitarist/co-founder Jeff Martin clearly sees the parallels between the state and his band and one must only listen to Levitate, the band's seventh release, to see why.

To say the music on Levitate is depressing would probably be an understatement to most. The second half of the album bears more minor-key piano playing than one happy-go-lucky reviewer can bear, but there is a time and a place for this music. Like if you just got dumped and you're feeling especially down. The first half of the album, however, is a bit more upbeat and fun. "Wondering The Fields," the first track, is one of five tracks that feature long-time Idaho fan Alex Kimmel on drums. His playing ignites Martin's introspective and brutally honest lyrics and adds some much-needed life to the songs. "20 years," the album's standout track, is the most sonically impressive with Martin gathering some peculiar sounds out of his guitar and singing louder and with more gusto than much of the rest of the album. His lyrics are obtuse and vague, but that adds to the mystery of the album and this band. "Every light is on fire/The final scene is empty/Your beautiful face is alive/What the hell am I supposed to do" Martin sings in a near whisper. You can almost hear tears streaming down his face.

Levitate makes for an interesting listen, but never fully envelopes the listener. Its quietness and humble attitude have potential to reward repeated listenings should one put in the time. But more or less, it's just there. Kind of like the state.

By Rob Kallick

this review is/was posted at www.hearsay.cc
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