Listening to Thayer Sarrano’s Lift Your Eyes To The Hills is like coming across a dark-colored-but-funky-nonetheless sweater in a second-hand clothing shop, trying it on, and finding that it’s been waiting for you to come along. Her music is already worn in all the right places and feels familiar. And it’s not so much dark as it serious – serious, yet soft at the same time.
Lift Your Eyes To The Hills doesn’t challenge – it nestles.
Whereas Sarrano’s 2009 debut King was sparse and vapory at times, the world offered up in the grooves of Lift Your Eyes To The Hills is made of layers of shifting sound strata: guitars both bone dry and dripping with shimmery reverb; drums that range from barely-there (“The Bend”) to full-fledged roll and tumble (“Gates”); thick, viscous organ (“They Are All Used To Your Beauty”); fathoms of synthed strings (“Echo Believer, Linger Linger”). And even when the instrumentation is down to the bare minimum – the starkly-strummed guitar on “I Miss My Lord” – Sarrano’s multi-tracked vocals (everything from unison near-croaks to lovely harmony parts) make for great depth in the arrangement.
There were helping hands in the construction of Lift Your Eyes To The Hills (including Seth Hendershot, Jim Wilson, and Jeremy Wheatly on drums along with guitarists Hank Sullivant and Zack Hosey) but much of what you hear is Sarrano herself, aided by the sonic navigation of Drew Vandenberg. Her songs are – what? Psychedelic folk? Sometimes: it’s not hard to imagine “Hand Held To Your Mouth” or “Quiet Now Your Bones” being rearranged by Big Brother’s Sam Andrew and James Hurley. There’s also Wilco-ish moodiness (“Witness” or “The Bend”) and moments that wouldn’t have been out of place on ol’ Neil’s Le Noise (Serrano’s vocal is tucked just out of reach behind the massive organ wheeze of “They Are All used To Your Beauty”).
All in all, it’s an impressive album from a young musician with talent beyond her years. And just like that sweater, Thayer Sarrano sounds comfy as hell with who she is.