Ascent – Secrets of Flight
California-based Ascent have released their most recent full-length effort, Secrets of Flight. The band is made up of husband-and-wife duo, Bruce and Christina Baldwin.
It opens up appropriately with “Ascension”, not just for its namesake, but for its edginess and dynamics. It’s a nice sampler for the bands tastes, and gives a little bit of a preview for the rest to come.
Their style is an eclectic hybrid of acoustic and electronic elements. Where Christina’s vocals lack in range, she makes up for in style and tone. Her voice has a Stevie Nicks quality to it, but without the grit.
“Act of Grace” is haunting in both lyrical content and instrumentation. It’s about someone who has taken their own life, and both vocals and piano provide the perfect melancholy vibe to set the scene.
Though I enjoyed “Hiding from Reality” the most, mainly for its stripped-down guitar-driven melody, “Inner Workings” (another acoustic tune) had a bit more bounce to it. “Talking In Circles” opens up with what sounds like a sitar riff right out the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire. I say that, because it’s done in a way that welcomes the club-styled beat that drives it home. This one caught me off guard, but in a good way.
The album ends with, “What the Crows Know”. Again, we hear that Eastern influence. It seems to suit them well. About three minutes in, there’s a beautiful percussion sequence with eerie effects on both vocals and instruments.
Overall, there is a nice consistency throughout the album, but it serves as both a blessing and a curse. No song on here is too risky or out of character for the band (save “Talking In Circles”), but I didn’t think there were any tracks that really rose above the rest either. That’s not always a bad thing, but I do like to walk away with something I would return too often.
What Ascent does have, which I appreciate, is a no-nonsense approach to their music. Their writing and arrangement, in my opinion, is their biggest asset and strength. At times they are catchy, even jazzy, and other times hard and reflective. And great things seem to happen when they are in their most organic and minimalist creative moods.