Album Review(s): Sleeping at Last “Yearbook”

Welcome to the Sleeping at Last “Yearbook” EP review! For this project, we each took one of the recent EP’s from Sleeping at Last’s latest project where they put out a 3-song EP every month to complete the year, from October 2010 to October 2011.

Abby Bradshaw:

I love it when a band can work hard enough to do a project that is out of the ordinary, such as this project from Sleeping At Last. Since October, the band has put out an independently-released EP every month to complete the “Yearbook” project. All I can say is we are pretty lucky to get a little taste every month of these spectacular songwriters.

The melodies are easy to listen to and get lost in on the November EP. No one song is a stand-out to me, but the beauty in that is that I’ll actually listen to this EP all the way through! The lyrics are full of imagery and emotion, but they are real as well, and the creativity doesn’t seem forced.

The song “Bright & Early” really resonated with me at the chorus – “In the end I’m told it taught me everything I know, that the wreckage left behind, will somehow make me grow.” I feel like that statement sums up so much of my life… those times that seem unbearably hard are the ones that make you grow the most. And you wish that you could have just avoided it all, but like the last line says, “If trust is ribbon, then patience ties it in a perfect bow.” I take this to mean that hindsight is 20/20… and you’ll see in time how your life circumstances, and your consequent responses, have made you into the person you are today. Musically I love how this song builds and the rhythmic variations with the piano and drums keep you interested through a consistent chord progression.

“Emphasis” – a proverb set to music. Beautiful, full of wisdom, and written for the times where you need to know that “the smartest thing I’ve ever learned is that I don’t have to have the answers.” This song is just simple and easy to listen to, with most of the emotion coming from the words rather than the arrangement.

And finally, the song “101010.” At first glance, I thought this song might have something to do with binary code (am I a nerd for thinking that?). I may just have to let the lyrics speak for themselves on this one… “But grey is not a compromise – it is the bridge between two sides. I would even argue that it is the color that most represents God’s eyes.” This song speaks to my background. I come from a world of black and white. While I think that there are certain things that will always have a “black & white” quality to them, as in, “I’d rather die than say I don’t believe this,” I have had to learn that there is a vast amount of “gray” in the world, and that it is there so that we as humans can learn to love each other past our differences. Again, the music on this one is so simple that it allows the message of the words to come through loud and clear.

I look forward to the future EP’s to complete my “Yearbook” collection – the little bits of wisdom are healthy reminders in a world of obscure lyrics and shallow talent.

Jon Page:

Having just been introduced to Sleeping At Last I have to say I’m impressed with the quality they’ve put into their Yearbook series of EPs. Too often I see bands hustle to make filler for a full length album. With Sleeping At Last’s Yearbook EPs every song has the quality and depth we expect from artists now-a-days both lyrically and musically. The December EP may only be three tracks in length, but each is chalk full of melodies and harmonies that triggered some serious introspection and contemplation.The EP kicks off with a track entitled “Accidental Light.” I’m a big fan of this one. It starts out with a simple piano lead and snare drum setting the scene for what sounds like a melodic march. Layer upon layer is added throughout the track giving off a very progressive feel as the song ebbs and flows. A very dynamic piece to be sure with only the piano and snare as constants throughout. Subtle synth pads put the finishing touches on this song as we gently transition to the next track, “From The Ground Up.”

A beautiful soft banjo lead brings us into this rather serious song. Layers of strings begin to stack one on top of the other as this story of healing unfolds. Seemingly a very personal message to the author, this song speaks of a relationship marred with fire and regret. As the piece progresses we are shown the journey of healing that brought these two souls back together. The second verse struck me the most. “It took me 27 years to wrap my head around this – to brush the ashes off of everything I love. Where courage was contagious, confidence was key. Right as rain and soft as snow. It grows and grows an grows, our home sweet home.” The song comes to a close with these final words, “We’ll try to document this light with cameras to our eyes in an effort to remember what being mended feels like.” A humbling lesson to remember and learn from our mistakes. This message is a perfect transition to “Snow”, the last song on this EP. A simple, piano driven song about the importance of family around the holidays, this track competes with “From The Ground Up” for my favorite song on December. The lyrics speak of the hope December brings and the importance of change. These themes are embodied in these lyrics:

“The table is set
And all glasses are full
Though pieces go missing
May we still feel whole
We’ll build new traditions in place of the old
Cause life without revision will silence our souls

Let the bells keep on ringing
Making angels in the snow
And may the melody surround us
When the cracks begin to show

Like the petals in our pockets
May we remember who we are
Unconditionally cared for
By those who share our broken hearts”

I love the image this paints. “Like the petals in our pockets, may we remember who we are. Unconditionally cared for by those who share our broken hearts.” Such a powerful message compelling us to never take for granted the ones who stand at our side. Overall I think this EP is a gold mine and well worth the $2.99 to claim it! Keep up the good work guys! You just made a new fan!

Jake Lee:

The fourth installation of Sleeping at Last’s “Yearbook EP” has finally arrived. The opening song, “January White” offers large, unplanned expanses of time and a fun, popping beat. Singer Ryan O’Neal celebrates a new year in lyrical elaborations of what could happen in the next 365 days. His words compare a blank calendar to the freshly fallen snow conjured up in our imaginations as we consider the first month of the year. The holidays are gone, a new year has arrived and everything is clean and white.

The closing song, “Wires” takes the listener through a series of events where as O’Neal says, “timing is everything”. Lyrics paint pictures of wires on bombs, bowstrings loaded with arrows, tight ropes and life’s ever-present divergent road. The music builds as these images pass by and we begin to feel that we’re about out of time.

Interestingly enough, both songs deliver a sense of expectation, they just do it from opposing ends some imaginary allotment time. The transition from celebration of the abundance to the suspense of time’s departure comes in the instrumental, “The Ash is in Our Clothes”. This song could be played to figure-skating or snow falling. The piano resounds over strings and woodwinds with a melody that has the same about of movement as “January White” with a mood that’s closer to “Wire” thus making it an appropriate transition.

Overall, January is an excellent grouping of songs and a great progression in the Yearbook EP. I’d say that of the twelve that Sleeping at Last has released in the project, these three are probably my favorites.

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