The closest I’ve ever come to listening to prog rock regularly was playing The Moody Blues’ On the Threshold of a Dream over and over when I was in junior high and felt the overwhelming need to light candles and write in my journal because I just had so many feelings. I did also work at a Renaissance Faire one summer (not last summer, I swear), but that wasn’t exactly for the music either. Is that the same? Regardless, Young Legs’ new single, Ring of Salt, has made me a serious fan of their particular prog rock/indie folk style.
Take “Ring of Salt,” for example. This track opens up with just guitar and vocals, but don’t be deceived. A minute and a half in we get a great crack! and in come the strings and the percussion and the harmonies, and everything continues to build in energy and complexity until the very end, when the lone guitar trills out the last few, charming notes.
Then there’s “The Wayfarer’s Waltz” – OH, MAN. GET READY. Although it starts out as a simple waltz, the instrumentation soon swells into A WHOLE CHORUS OF WOODWINDS. And even though I know this probably isn’t how it was recorded, in my head there is a whole flock of flautists playing as one. And they don’t need to stand on one foot; they simply float in the air, borne aloft by the awesome power of music. And it is majestic.
That might sound cheesy, but it is not, thanks to Steven Donahue’s vocals. They’re so intimate they give me that swoopy feeling in my gut—you know the one, when you have a crush on someone and they walk by when you weren’t expecting? These songs are soft and sweet and a little sad, like when he sings, “Please be gentle/Please be gentle when you go” in “Ring of Salt,” and a little hopeful, with “the tearful reunion of a girl and a boy” in “The Wayfarer’s Waltz.” Lyrics about having to leave and coming back someday have certainly been written before, but Donahue’s raw sincerity evokes a sense of nostalgia for a time when the listener was emotionally accessible, instead of a salty old broad whose tear ducts have closed up from lack of use.
Or maybe that’s just me.
I’m very much looking forward to more vulnerable lyrics and prog rock-y, indie folk goodness from Young Legs on The Petal and the Page, being released on December 9th. Once you get your hands on it, you might just want to light some candles and write all about your feelings while you listen to it. Just like the old days.
“Dear Journal,” you might write, “Listening to Young Legs. Soooo dreamy. XOXO”
…Which might be what I wrote in my journal today. Fuck you guys.
Carrie is N.J. Racket's copy editor and contributor of many album and EP reviews. She also has a puppy named Halo and loves Mac N Cheese.