"Husband-wife duo Daniel and Laura Goans have crafted one of the most inventive and fittingly humble holiday collections this season. They’ve re-imagined such warhorses as “Joy to the World” and “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” to give them unexpected freshness and supplement them with less-frequently covered tunes including the African American spiritual “Ain’t That Rockin’ All Night” and Johnny Cash’s “We Are the Shepherds.” A smart blend of low-tech and high-imagination." - Randy Lewis, LA Times
"Daniel and Lauren Goans retreat from the constant motion of life on the road and resurface with a collection of songs that are bracing in their honesty, transparent in their affection, seductive in their vulnerability. The result is Thin, eleven compositions that invite the listener to spend time in a world made rich by their observations...In this frantic, fast food, Facebook world, Lowland Hum draws us into a sanctuary where we can really feel, and dare to be human, with all the naked vulnerability that implies. Thin is majestic in its simplicity, elegant in its honesty. Take that walk. One foot in front of the other, my darling." - Joseph McSpadden, No Depression^
"[Thin]...is as complex as it is relevant, the product of struggle, loss, and adaptation. By accepting limitations, Lowland Hum has carved out a new sound for themselves on Thin. And although they have stripped away much of their former comforts, the fruit of their labor is here for us to savor like a wine poured from troubled vines." - Thomas Hendricks, Whurk
"Sincerity, community and beauty is how I think of Lowland Hum; the sounds of Lauren and Daniel Goans. Thin is the husband and wife duo's third album since their 2013 debut, further refining their hushed harmonies and aural paintings. It's a sound that makes them a quiet Sunday-morning favorite." - Bob Boilen, NPR Music
"For many, the art-folk duo first graced our ears when they took part in NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert series a couple of years back. Since then, they’ve been steadily growing a faithful following and riding the wave of popularity rise alongside a movement for conscious music that forgoes the showboat-y anthems of stadium bands in favor of thoughtful, haunting folk movements to sit back and really listen to and relate to." - Jonathan Frahm, For Folk's Sake
"[On Thin]...the two of them, their voices, their emotions (it’s hard not to detect them), became the spotlight, the tension, and the spark of this album. It’s like watching negative space become the feature, then back again. It is quietly, emotionally, psychedelic. A kind of game of listening. When do they braid together into one voice? Where do they pull apart? They can make harmonies as gentle as mist, and they do, time and time again, all up and down the tracks of this record. But there are also moments of one voice calling out to the other, unanswered. What you are listening to, you realize, is the undulating form, of strain." - Lulu Miller*
"[Lowland Hum creates an] atmospheric brand of emotionally intelligent folk"
-Matt Grosinger, Nerdist
"Using only their voices, a guitar, a drum, and a couple of custom-made stompbox/tambourines, they have been known to put on captivating live shows. Lauren has a background in visual art, and the couple has found a way to incorporate illuminated installations and hand-bound lyric books into their shows, further elevating the duo’s performances." - Examiner.com
"This music is mostly unadorned and pure, with considerable attention to detail. Lauren's voice sounds refreshing and simple, and Daniel's passion shakes from his head and literally to his feet."
-Bob Boilen, NPR Music
"Their vocal harmonies are airtight and sweet, their songs shadowy but bolstered by hope and by a shared vision. But where so many folk acts tend towards the spare and the slow—hoping to drag emotion out of us one pulled note at a time—Lowland Hum’s sound is a vibrant one. The vocals on “War Is Over” rise up and out of the track, letting it bloom instead of whispering in the corner of some coffee shop." - Matthew Fiander, Pop Matters
"The album opens with “Sunday,” which serves as both a palette-cleanser — wordless hums, strings and a tentative beat swirl together in a gauzy mess – and a warning: This may not be your typical acoustic singer-songwriter stuff. “Olivia” spikes the verses with bossa nova, but transitions into a more straightforward beat for the pleading chorus. There’s a tough to identify, modern-sounding riff – verging on a synthesizer – during “Charleston.” “Older Wiser” gestures toward something barbed and driving, and the low, tightly-locked and slightly droney beginning of “Lautrec” evokes Nirvana." - Elias Leight, Diffuser
"The dynamic range of this 13-song set runs from hushed insularity to ardent expansiveness, alighting on dozens of gradations between. The sunshine-infused pop number "Olivia" depicts lovers trying to steal time together. The pensive, fingerpicked "Rolling And Rolling" ponders the ways that growing up erodes a person's sense of self. The somber hymn "Lautrec" is a meditation on the pain that French painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec might have been purging in his work, while the bittersweet folk-rocker "Odell" conjures the flattening emotional burdens his mother bore." - Jewly Hight, NPR Music, First Listen
"This is a collection of private, wistful songs given in shards and blooms, ala Terrence Malick. Still, though – the sense of these songs being drawn from a place of genuine depth and experience is evident throughout the album, especially if one reads the lyrics while listening (which, I believe, Lowland Hum would prefer). The words are the true tour de force of this duo, expressing the anguish and mystery of intimacy with austere acuity." - Alanna Boudreau, Love Good Music
"I am an 80-year-old teeny-bopper, whose favorite band is the orchestra Lowland Hum, composed of two soulmates, Daniel & Lauren Goans. Their magical lyrics, compositions, and performances bewitch and beguile us. Join me in praising Jahweh for such gifts and such blessings, such ministry as their albums and recitals. Thank you . . . Lowland Hum !" - Alan Brilliant, Unicorn Press
"What they’ve created is one of the most striking, hypnotic, emotionally affecting albums I’ve heard this or any other year. The songs on the self-titled Lowland Hum have an eerie, impressionistic rootlessness to them, layering impassioned, almost desperate vocal harmonies over ambience-heavy tracks that build gradually, becoming more complex and intricate waves of percussion, guitar and keyboards as they evolve, almost like aural spider webs. It’s music that quietly combines a haunting, dreamlike stillness with remarkably intuitive playing, all in service of expansive melodies that stretch slowly outward into an invisible horizon." - Vincent Harris, Greenville Journal
^scroll all the way down for more extensive selections from McSpadden's article
*scroll all the way down for Lulu Miller's full review
read more about lowland hum:
NPR (Track by Track, First Listen, Tiny Desk, First Watch, World Cafe, All Songs - 2013, 2015, 2017):
No Depression (2017):
Album Review of Thin (2017)- http://nodepression.com/album-review/lowland-hums-low-lit-gaze
Album Premiere of Thin (2017) - http://nodepression.com/article/stream-lowland-hums-pastoral-thin-album-premiere
Paste Magazine Live Session (2017):
In-Studio Session at The Current [KCMP] for Radio Heartland (2017):
For Folk's Sake "In Flight" Video Premiere (2017):
LA Times Review of Songs For Christmas Time (2017):
No Depression Review of Songs For Christmas Time (2017):
Mockingbird Review of Songs For Christmas Time (2017):
Pop Matters Review of Thin (2017):
PopMatters "Folded Flowers" Video Premiere:
Style Weekly Feature (2017):
The All Scene Eye Review of Thin and album release show (2017):
American Songwriter "Thin Places" Video Premiere (2016):
Huffington Post "making of Thin" Video Premiere (2016):
Popdose Review of Thin (2017):
Whurk Feature (2017):
The Vinyl District Feature (2016):
Jeff Burger review of Thin in No Depression, The Morton Report and blog (2017):
Thank Folk For That Interview (2017):
Laut.de review of Thin (2017):
Unter-ton review of Thin (2017):
Janetts-Meinung review of Thin (2017):
Schwarza Taler review of Thin (2017):
Gaestleiste review of Thin (2017):
-- Other Press --
Style Weekly Fashion Feature (2016):
The Deli NYC (2017):
Conan O'Brien's Blog (Team Coco) Video Premiere (2014):
Nerdist Video Premier (2015):
The Bluegrass Situation Video Premiere (2016):
Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy Video Premiere (2013):
Earmilk Song Premier (2015):
Popmatters (review of Lowland Hum - 2015):
Love Good Music (review of Lowland Hum - 2016):
Popmatters (review of Native Air - 2013):
Mockingbird (review of Lowland Hum - 2015):
Live Video Session with Our State Magazine (2015):
The Current (review of Lowland Hum - 2015):
Diffuser (review of Lowland Hum - 2015):
The Bluegrass Situation (review of Lowland Hum):
New Noise Magazine (review of Lowland Hum - 2015):
WUNC - The State of Things (2015):
À découvrir absolument (2015):
Indy Star (2015):
Misfit City (2015):
Our Jackson Home (2015):
Greenville Journal (2015):
Scene SC Interview (2015):
Mountain Xpress (2015):
The Free Lance Star (2015):
Waco Tribune (2015):
Radio.com Interview (2015):
Washington Post Review (Native Air - 2013):
Sing Out! Review (Native Air - 2013):
Guitar World Premiere:
Cville Interview (2015):
The Current UMFL Review (Lowland Hum - 2015):
Best New Bands Review (Native Air - 2015):
-- SELECT COMPLETE REVIEWS + ARTICLES --
Review by Lulu Miller (of NPR's Invisibilia and Radiolab)(2017):
"Need a cup of cappuccino for the soul? Try Lowland Hum’s new album, Thin. And by cup of cappuccino, I don’t mean an overpriced frivolity. I mean a sacred and unsugared thing you commune with privately when you need to soothe the corners of your roughened soul.
I’ve been listening to it a lot lately.
It’s a stripped down take on the kind of music they had been making in the last couple of years. They had been out on the road, getting all rocky, all stomping their feet in synchrony on homemade drum platforms, touring as a four piece band; they were good at it; they were feeling like warriors, but all those extra bodies, all those extra beats and instruments… were starting, they worried, to obscure some essential thing about them. So for this album, they stripped everything away—the extra voices, the extra musicians, the clomp-clomp syncopation of their feet in response to a drumkit. They went back to what they could do just the two of them.
The two of them, their voices, their emotions (it’s hard not to detect them), became the spotlight, the tension, and the spark of this album. It’s like watching negative space become the feature, then back again. It is quietly, emotionally, psychedelic. A kind of game of listening. When do they braid together into one voice? Where do they pull apart? They can make harmonies as gentle as mist, and they do, time and time again, all up and down the tracks of this record. But there are also moments of one voice calling out to the other, unanswered. What you are listening to, you realize, is the undulating form, of strain.
Perhaps its no surprise, then, that Lauren, searching for a way to express their new sound, the essence of Lowland Hum without words, grabbed a piece of muslin and stitched into it a Janus-like silhouette with two faces. Hers on the left, Daniel’s on the right. It’s a deadringer for their silhouettes, united, but pulling in opposite directions. Janus, the symbol for gateways, transitions. Janus, the patron saint of January, a time for new beginnings. Janus, the push and pull of their connected self.
And that, I think, is what you hear in this disc. Uncertainty. Strain. Not a duo that has their spiel down, that’s cashing in what’s already made them successful, but one that dares to tip toe into the rim of the unknown. That attempts to grow.
I loved this album. The first time I listened, I was walking through a wintry woods in Virginia. The music fit the scene the perfectly. It feels like a winter album, has the haunting sound of Bon Iver, of voices echoing in a barren space, like a cave. I am a sucker for that sound, but still.
The pictures this album makes in your head are beautiful, you almost feel like you are floating, just a foot above the ground, across the entire country. There are cattails, and wet grass, parting as you go, then canyons, then mountains, flocks of bird catching light in the sun, a train running through all of it.
My favorite tracks are the ones where they whisper reminders. “Sometimes a walk is all you need,” their lonesome voices try to promise each other, on track 03, In Flight. “One front in front of the other, my darling,” they whisper on track 01, Palm Lines. I feel like I am having my forehead stroked after a long day, am being told it will be ok, by someone who shares my sadness, and is not sure it will be ok.
In one song, Family Tree, which starts very sparsely, Lauren cries at a crescendo, “Oh, what am I to you??” After which the little break in her lungs, the cowboy cry itself, jumps out of the lyrics, and begins to loop, morphing into percussion.
There is looping, whispering, plucking, occasional drum, quieter, but still present evidence of the fun they like to have with sound. And only one lie, as far as I can tell. “All lonesome singers start sounding the same,” they worry, amidst a string of reassurances, on track 03. But they are wrong.
As they meet your sadness, see it, soothe it, hush it away, then unearth it again in a new silvery form for you to look at anew, as their voices braid and unbraid, stand apart, then grow together, these lonesome singers sound like nothing I’ve heard before."
Joseph McSpadden of No Depression's Longer Form Article (2017):
"Daniel and Lauren Goans retreat from the constant motion of life on the road and resurface with a collection of songs that are bracing in their honesty, transparent in their affection, seductive in their vulnerability. The result is Thin, eleven compositions that invite the listener to spend time in a world made rich by their observations.
The Goans began their marriage and their collaboration as Lowland Hum in practically the same moment. Since that humble launch in 2012 they have been on the road more than not. Two full length albums and one EP later they were in need of a break. In the spring of 2016 they got some much-needed down time, and returned to their Virginia home.
“I knew we needed to take time off. I told Daniel that the things he was saying weren’t making sense anymore,” Lauren says. Hibernation included binging on some Netflix series. “I think we definitely crushed a few of those,” Daniel adds. On the phone from their place in Charlottesville, Virginia, they are eager to talk about the new album. What is readily apparent is that they put as much thought into their answers as they do their lyrics.
Daniel began writing songs at age twelve. Lauren is a visual artist, working in video and with evocative props that enhance their live show. I asked if there was an artist or a record that served as an inspiration for getting into music. Daniel said, “The Beatles. It was the White Album. I never knew I could travel that far in my bedroom.” For Lauren, the question left her at a loss for words. “I think it was quite a while before I realized I had anything to say. Daniel was really great at encouraging me in this area.”
Reflecting on last year, and life on the road, Daniel came to some conclusions. “Last year there were some things that looked like they might come together to grow this thing. At one point, it all collapsed. It left me with a question I had to ask myself. If this was as big as it got…if it meant that for the rest of my life I would be performing for fifty people in a house concert, would I be okay with that? Would I still want to do this? And the answer was, yes.”
Thin opens with the gentle strains of an acoustic guitar, the delicate sound of Lauren Goans voice gliding above the melody. Daniel joins in and the listener is ushered into a rich interior world, a place where healing and connection are possible. In this place, full of sensory details, Lowland Hum explores our ability to recover from the ravages of the hurried life. This song cycle asks us to consider how we live, how we get lost, and how we find our way home. There are no major revelations here, this is not an exercise in magical thinking. Instead what is offered is the idea of a life lived with intent.
“Palm Lines” is the opening track and finds the couple regaining their footing. “Walking through cold, tall grass” the couple seek solace in something as simple as a walk outdoors. Road weariness begins to ebb away, albeit slowly. “Frailty is a friend that makes you sleep until morning,” Lauren sings. In this moment of tenderness, we see the couple pulling together, rather than apart, leaning into their relationship for help and a guiding hand. As Daniel sings, “If I lose my sight will the shadow draw me in?” he is answered by Lauren’s reassuring mantra, “Darling, darling, darling.” And we know that he is not alone, not adrift, but tethered by her love. This first song sets the tone for the album, creating an environment where solitude can be a shared experience.
That theme runs like a silver lining throughout the eleven songs on Thin. On “In Flight” they are walking again:
When the world is ugly
And your mind turns black,
A walk might be all that you need.
Be my friend today.
Don’t have much to say
But I’ll try to be myself
As they go, the two observe a flock of birds. The intuitive movements of the flock inspire them to want to relate to one another in a more graceful, natural way. This glimpse into their private life finds them watching the birds in flight, even as they themselves are grounded, in all the positive connotations of the word. Birds are a recurring image on Thin. In fact, the natural world is as present in these tracks as the Goans themselves.
Set details are rendered in the most poetic language. “Cattails nod like monks. Humble tonsures blur. Periphery diamonds kiss mercury.” Other images abound, leaves, and fields, the surface of the bay, and the unfolding spring season. The Goans’ interior journey is rooted firmly in the real world. Lesser artists would veer off the path, and get trapped in their own eddy and stagnate. While the themes of love, reconnection, and relationship are the backbone of the album, nothing feels repeated or overused. That is, in great part, due to the caliber of the writing.
“Family Tree” conveys the struggle of a parent choosing to give up their child for adoption. The second guessing of the decision, the heartache of watching from the window, is rendered in heartbreaking fashion. The portrayal is handled maturely, avoiding the sort of treacly movie-of-the-week sentiment that would be patronizing. It is that sort of intelligent and gentle work in excavation that we have come to expect from Lowland Hum.
There are all sorts of good magic on this record. Each spin takes the listener deeper into mystery and discovery. Notes and sounds you missed on previous trips through Thin surprise and enchant the ears. It is like watching a great film for the second, or third, time. You find new things to love. In the process, you experience the love Daniel and Lauren have for each other, and for their work. The album operates on such a deep level that it seems to reach into your subconscious, tunneling into your soul.
A good example of this subliminal alchemy is found on “Thin Places.” The song begins as a solo acoustic guitar piece. As it builds, the guitar is joined by sparse piano. The two instruments tease and flirt intimately with each other in the way that people do when they know each other very well. It is a sweet dance, as if the very arrangement of the song sought to mirror their union. It is marriage as performance art.
When asked about this, Daniel replies, “I don’t know that I was consciously aware of that.” But the song, and the entire record feels so carefully considered. Where they place a note, or leave an open space, allows the songs to breathe. The couple’s instincts are spot-on. The production as a whole is an embodiment of love, not the ecstatic rave-up sort, but the affirming, comforting, slow burn for the long-haul type. The kind you want to be snowed-in with for a week.
Thin shoulders its message comfortably, articulate in its understated aura. It travels its own path even as it hearkens back to an older time. There are echoes of things permanent, eternal, and wise. In its wisdom, Thin recalls the musings of romantic poets. The record trudges the wooded glens and the leafy paths that run somewhere between Astral Weeks and Tea for the Tillerman. Which is not to say that Thin sounds like either of those albums. It doesn’t, and that is a good thing. What it shares with those older records are images and themes that appear as connecting points. While eschewing the epiphanies of Morrison, they connect in many ways. Nature imagery is ground zero. Where Morrison has always had his “golden autumn days,” and his “clear, cool, crystal streams,” Lowland Hum has their own Edenic portfolio. Their “clear autumn blue revives the sunburned eyes.” As they state so eloquently, “we await the crocus and the smell of thawing soil.”
The references to walking through the natural world bring to mind Stevens’ Tillerman. There is a sense here that the Goans are at play in the fields of the Lord, on their own road to find out. Passing references to a spiritual life connect Thin to both Morrison’s and Stevens’ albums. The Tillerman song “Into White” seems stylistically a cousin to Lowland Hum’s Thin. The aspect of healing through music is everywhere, and was a muse for Morrison in the eighties. And yet, for all these connections, Lowland Hum stands apart, with their own voice, their own sound.
As Morrison once sang, “We’re gonna roam across a field, when the healing has begun.” It is all about healing. It is about leaving your phone in the dresser drawer and talking to your loved one. It is about the ability to be together in silence, beyond speech, where merely the presence of the other is all that is required. It is about a quiet bond that anchors your place in the earth in the midst of tribulation. In this frantic, fast food, Facebook world, Lowland Hum draws us into a sanctuary where we can really feel, and dare to be human, with all the naked vulnerability that implies. Thin is majestic in its simplicity, elegant in its honesty. Take that walk. One foot in front of the other, my darling."