Album Review: LEAN TEE, 'Lavender' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Album Review: LEAN TEE, 'Lavender'

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LEAN TEE, Lavender
  • LEAN TEE, Lavender

(Self-released, digital)

Burlington singer-songwriter Taylor Paul Kracher, who performs and records under the moniker LEAN TEE, offers scant initial insight into his new EP, Lavender. In an email, he writes that he attempted to "convey an overall disillusionment between idealism and the superficial comfort found in our routines." That kind of vague yet thought-provoking teaser seems to be his modus operandi.

In 2017, before Seven Days reviewed his debut EP, Cerulean Spin, Kracher mentioned via email that the five-track collection was meant to impart "bleak optimism that combats futility." His statement regarding Lavender has a similar structure. Both explanations focus on spectrums with clearly defined end points. But how much space lies between them, and what can we call that expanse? Humanity, probably.

And that's what's so enticing about Kracher's music. By nature, bedroom indie-pop tends to have a distinct intimacy. Indeed, the artist played nearly every sound heard on the home-recorded EP — except for additional drum work from Mike Fahy on wispy closer "TEA." Budget constraints and scrappy ingenuity almost always add an inherent closeness to recordings of this type, but something about Kracher's delivery makes the listener feel not merely like an audience member but a confidant.

Mid-tempo dream-pop opener "Ghost of You" works hard to establish the particular milky pallor heard across the nearly 30-minute offering. Frigid guitar tones tread a perpetual arpeggio over frothy snares as Kracher's woes pour from his head like sand from a boot. He's missing someone, but his thoughts seem to dwell more on life in their absence than on the actual person.

"Bridge" opens with a provincial soundscape, wind chimes and all, before swiftly transitioning into acoustic strumming. His filtered vocals shimmer and vibrate as if encased inside a crystal. A simple yet powerful kick-snare beat adds heft roughly halfway through the twinkling lullaby.

After the nearly danceable "Expected," Kracher tamps down the energy with the confessional "Wishing Well." The six-and-a-half-minute slow burn is the EP's core. His thoughts sedately seep into a glassy mixture of ambient tones, lethargic chords and the clangor of cymbals. He drops hints about his state of mind in phrases such as "The drugs that we used to do don't work any longer" and "Love swept under the rug is exhausting." His climactic declaration, "I'm so tired of wishing well," plays with an earlier analogy of pennies floating to the bottom of a well, suffocated by the weight of water.

"TEA" concludes the outing by stripping nearly everything away. Kracher's vocals are the least detached as he sings over nothing but guitar. By the tune's end, he ramps up the emotional intensity with sorrowful background vocals and Fahy's spine-tingling drum work.

Kracher finds good company with Burlington's cohort of creators navigating the rough waters of young adulthood. Though he may find himself pulled in opposite directions in real life, his music exudes welcome stillness.

Lavender is available at leantee.bandcamp.com.