Hiding amid the flickering acoustic glide and the warm male/female croon of Magic Apron's Orphan Harmony lies a wolf in sheep's clothing. Each song unfolds with candle-lit intimacy, painting a picture of a safe and sound 4 a.m. as the last fleeting moments of consciousness slip away. But while the dreamy and love-stricken atmosphere that billows from the opening song "Bells in Our Fingernails" sets the tone for the rest of the album, it does not last. As songs such as "Dahlia" and "Jackknife Swan" sink deeper into comfortable oblivion, the hint of danger swells.
For vocalist/guitarist David McClung, the key to writing these songs was drawing out a sense of solitude in the face of impending collapse. McClung approached Orphan Harmony knowing that two of his closest friends and musical collaborators, vocalist/guitarist Joanna Bajandas and Rhodes synth player Jeffrey Lerner, were leaving Atlanta for an indefinite period. So Orphan Harmony became a celebration of three friends living in the moment before it all came to an end.
Each song is bound by alluring harmonies that build around the subtle inflections of Bajandas' voice and are countered by mesmerizing bouts of noise and wide-eyed drones that wash over songs such as "Eleanor" and "Love Ocean/Chord." Every note of every song drips with melancholy; but the sentiment never comes to a point as McClung pushes it down to focus on the time at hand, rather than confront the end.
As such, Orphan Harmony is a bittersweet affair, but is by no means a closed chapter. "They are my musical soulmates," McClung says of Bajandas and Lerner. "They'll be back. It could be a month or it could be a year, but when they're back, we'll pick it up again."
Magic Apron plays the benefit party for 11:11 Teahouse at Eyedrum Art & Music Gallery Fri., Aug. 31. $5-$10 donation suggested. 8 p.m. www.eyedrum.org.
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