"It feels like a resurrection," frontman/songwriter Ben Kyle says of Shadowlands, Romantica's fourth album and first new release in seven years.
Let The Light Go Through You (04:37)
Harder To Hear (04:18)
Give Your Heart A Shelter (04:40)
Cecil Ingram Conor (03:14)
Lonely Star (03:16)
Here It Comes (05:53)
After The War (03:41)
Buffalo Bill (04:29)
We Were Young (03:35)
Blue Heart (03:10)
Nobody Knows (04:53)
St. Paul City Lights (04:18)
Get Back In Love (05:05)
Shandy Bass (03:46)
Indeed, the emotion-charged set marks a creative rebirth for the sprawling Minnesota-based ensemble, with Kyle's evocative vocals and vivid songwriting illuminated by his bandmates' organic instrumental rapport. Romantica's lush, melodic songcraft has won considerable attention in the Americana/alt-country community, but the Irish-born Kyle's unique perspective resists easy categorization. While the band's personnel has shifted and evolved over the years, its unique musical vision has remained consistent.
Shadowlands' 14 lovingly crafted originals encompass intense introspection and celebratory uplift, with such heartfelt tunes as "Let the Light Go Through You," "Harder to Hear," "Give Your Heart a Shelter," "Here It Comes" and the heartfelt Gram Parsons tribute "Cecil Ingram Connor" reflecting on life's trials and triumphs in a manner that echoes the album's title.
"I've been through some very deep shadowlands in my life in the last few years, and this material comes out of that experience," Kyle explains, adding, "I feel like a lot of the content of this record is about the fruit of the darkness in life. There's a line in the song 'Give Your Heart a Shelter' that goes 'Sometimes the night and the darkness know better, and in the heartache we find that's where the heart breaks through.' Sometimes the most difficult things are the things that purify and coalesce and crystallize our true selves, where we really discover what we're about and why we're here."
In order to capture the songs' stirring sense of place, Kyle and company cut Shadowlands in a barn in the wilds of Southwestern Minnesota, which the band and engineer Brad Bivens converted into a recording studio.
"I think it's the first real band record we've made, in the sense that it was a pure collaboration, in a way that our earlier albums maybe weren't," Kyle asserts. "This time, I brought the songs in skeletal form, and we all put them together in the same time and space and played everything live. We'd wake up in the morning in the little farmhouse where we were staying, and we'd make a plan for what songs we wanted to approach that day.
The search for musical truth has been a life's work for Kyle, who moved from Ireland to Minnesota with his family when he was a teenager.
"My journey, and the perspective of having lived in one country and then moving to another, has been a very big influence on how I approach music," he states. "The music environment in Minnesota, with bands like the Jayhawks and Soul Asylum, made a deep impression on me. At the same time, I grew up playing Irish folk music in pubs with my family. And at some point, I realized that those two kinds of music were not that different."
Romantica's extended hiatus—during which Kyle released a self-titled solo album as well as a collaborative effort with Carrie Rodriguez, pointedly titled We Still Love Our Country—was a product of the band's disputes with its former label, as well as the realities of family commitments