Alive and Well (Far Flung Records)
Big Little Lions, the cross-border musical partnership of Helen Austin and Paul Otten, have produced a timely selection of songs that capture the troubling times we are in, but with at least a little hope for the future.
Mostly upbeat, and pop-infused, with folky gang vocals and hand clapping/foot stomping cues, the songs on Alive and Well feel big. The layers of harmonies call to mind bigger folk acts suchg as The Lumineers, or The Head and the Heart.
The album begins with an anthem about finding your people, your tribe, to help you be your best self. It’s a song that could easily be the singalong anthem of a summer of road trips and festivals.
Politics finds its way into much of the album, the lyrics touching on more serious topics while the pop edge of the songs keeps you feeling fine.The haunting Unicorn asks us to “wake me when the word is sober / tell me when this show is over”—lamenting the state of things, the rarity of human connection, and indeed, simple humanity.
It’s a theme we also see in the nostalgia of Static, reminiscing about just “hanging around” as children and teens. All in all, Alive and Well is a wonderful and cohesive album from two already award-winning songwriters. Expect more of the same recognition for this one.