You can probably recognize the phrase or a variation of, “Don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.” This phrase serves as a reminder to pause in all the craziness to stop and enjoy nature’s simple beauty. If we can apply this to music, we’re sure to discover where the most human qualities can be felt from the first note to the last. Certainly advancements in music production are wonderful to say the least, but sometimes soul can be lost in the layers of production. Anna Tivel’s Before Machines is the musical equivalent of stopping to smell the roses.

Continuing with a simple theme, the instruments used on each track are kept minimal. This emphasizes the musical ideas each instrument contributes. A rich bassline lies just underneath it all, adding a profound groove. Tivel’s voice ranges from a hushed whisper to a confident confession, which enhances her expressive yet quaint lyrics. The most dynamic instrument of all is guitar, which alternates from soothing and delicate to strong and significant. A phrase that sums up the compositional method of this record is “less is more.”

Perfectly placed to pull you in, “Five Dollar Bill” opens the album with a vibrant guitar line and lighthearted lyrics that will have you humming along. “Grace And Gasoline” is where the guitar takes center stage with sophisticated solos heard in between Tivel’s gentle vocals. Familiarity is glorified in “I’ll Be Home,” a song that is particularly warm and comfy, and incorporates a lush bassline.

Music is most effective when it stirs up something inside. There’s an emotion that shines through her stripped down, humble sound and just pulls the empathy right out of you. Even as emotions run high, a listen to this album will ultimately transport you to a happy place of comfort and security.

In A Word: Serene

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