Eisley – The Valley
Release Date: March 1, 2011
Record Label: Equal Vision
You always hear sayings about how life is all about the peaks and valleys and how you handle them. Don’t get too high, don’t get too low. It’s all about how you make the good and bad times work out for you. I’m sure most of you have read about the trials and tribulations the members of Eisley have gone through over the course of the last few years, and it’s not my right to say how each situation affected the band. I’m gonna let the 11 tracks of The Valley do that instead.
After toiling in major label purgatory for six years, Eisley has found a secure home in Equal Vision – a label that believes in and backs the DuPree’s vision. This time around their enchanting pop sound is bit more gritty, as the DuPree sisters sing of love lost and love gained. Really, you could argue that vocalist Stacy DuPree states one of the album’s major lyrical themes when she croons, “I don’t believe in magic,” on the album’s opening track. It’s a freeing moment on The Valley when those words hit your ears. The music is brisk and the collective “ooooh’s” are mesmerizing, thus setting the tone for the album. What follows is the sly rocker, “Smarter,” which shows the band amping up the riffs and offering up blunt statements like, “If I sound angry, I’m sorry. This body can only cry for so long. And if you want to blame me, then go on. I’m smiling now because I’m smarter than you think.” But don’t think they’ve forgot about their pop sensibilities, as piano flourishes exist throughout the track.
What’s really impressive is that no matter how dismal the lyrics may seem, the band never comes across as jaded. Sure, the album features some dark subject matter regarding life and love, such as on tracks like "Watch it Die" which digs into the demise of love and the consequences of a broken relationship, while "Sad" cautions that "you'll be left broken and bleeding from the heart when he doesn't come home." The band doesn’t wallow in sorrow or ask for your pity – they got hurt, they’ve moved on, and they own it. “Better Love” is incredibly uplifting. From the jangly guitar riffs to the soaring vocals courtesy of the DuPree sisters, the track is a clear standout on The Valley.
But what drives home the lyrics’ impact are the DuPree sisters’ pristine vocals and the band’s lush instrumentation. The harmonized vocals mixed with the crisp guitar work and ambient instrumentation paint a glorious sound picture for your ears. “Oxygen Mask” and “Kind” work as modern takes of classic rock songs (think Fleetwood Mac), while the beautiful “Ambulance” leaves the biggest impression, as its strong piano melody slowly transitions into an immense crescendo to create a track full of love and empathy, thus closing The Valley on the strongest of notes.
The Valley is equally intimate and gorgeous as it is rough and realistic. Sherri DuPree-Bemis, Stacy DuPree, and Chauntelle DuPree have turned in a vocal performance that’ll be hard to match, while the luscious and stirring musical arrangements will be humming between your ears continuously over the course of the foreseeable future. And even when I write that The Valley is the band’s best album yet, It still feels like a huge understatement – like I’m not giving the album enough credit. Just believe this: The Valley is an album that will stick with you. It’ll be there for you during the peaks and during the valleys. I’ve always believed in these two things: that music is always cathartic and that your family will always be there for you. Eisley is the living proof.
Awesome review, especially the last paragraph. I've heard of these guys, but never gave any whole album a listen. But I love great female vocals and the kind of lyrics you described. I think I'll pick this up today!
I have to say that I absolutely love this album. I'm currently going through a divorce, and I deeply connected with these songs - in a way I haven't connected with music in a long time. I'm not trying to over-simplify things, because I know everyone has those kinds of experiences with music, and that doesn't make the music itself great. But in this case, it just so happens that this actually is a great album.
I'm so happy for this band. Not only have they crafted their best work, but just knowing their personal stories helps me know that there's light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks, Eisley. And great review, Drew.