‘Rest’ album review

Image courtesy of Facebook.com/TheGrayHavens

album: Rest
artist: The Gray Havens
genre: alternative pop
release date: September 25, 2020
star rating: four out of five

review by Levi Yager

The new EP from The Gray Havens is a sweet breath of fresh air. Titled Rest, its playful nature wrapped in simple wisdom makes for a joyful, rejuvenating record. And it includes a treat for fans of instrumental versions, too, as all three tracks have their instrumental counterparts on the EP’s latter half.

“Sunday Train” rolls into the station bright and early. Honestly, the arrangements in this song are brilliant; you can hear the locomotive’s mechanical orchestra become louder and more distinct as the song goes on and the train approaches. The vocals perfectly complement the procession as well. “Sunday Train” carries with it the excitement of an upcoming trip and the majesty of a big steam engine. It’s a track where The Gray Havens’ originality really shines through.

Next, we have another highlight, “Magic in the Moment.” Once again, we’re treated to an interesting blend of sounds and styles; “Magic in the Moment” is like a vintage Maury Laws composition mixed with subtle chill-hop vibes. And you get some great vocal harmonies to boot. “Magic in the Moment” is irresistibly charming, especially with the inclusion of a few “family time” soundbites. Altogether, it’s a nice, slow song about perspective and the beauty of the present.

The title track finishes up the run of standard songs. “Rest” is a good closer, but it’s nothing too exceptional. The best part is its eclectic instrumentation; The Gray Havens bring out all the bells and whistles to tinker with, and it’s a fantastic listening experience. The song’s second half is a grand crescendo with repeating lyrics. While effective, this climactic ending of “Rest” feels somewhat over-indulgent to me, but that’s mostly small potatoes. Its only other minor flaw is that the lyrics in general are a bit unimaginative, but this doesn’t dismantle the song by any means. “Rest” is a pleasant track, and it serves its purpose.

Then, we get the instrumentals. Personally, I don’t always care for instrumental versions of songs, but these are by-and-large worth your while due to all of the detail that went into the arrangements. “Sunday Train” puts you right next to the railroad ties, “Magic in the Moment” gives you room to just reminisce and “Rest” is possibly an improvement as it shifts all the focus back to its best parts.

I strongly encourage you to check this EP out. It’s akin to a weekend vacation, slowing down time to help you relax and enjoy the small things. The varied instrumentation, featuring a handful of different percussion sounds and some neat electronics, is integrated wonderfully into these songs, and it’s fun to hear The Gray Havens continue to experiment a little here and there with new textures. As people, we all need rest – physical, spiritual, mental and emotional. Maybe this EP can help you find the rest you need today.

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