Blind Pilot inspires emotion

The extensive creative influences on Blind Pilot’s _We Are The Tide_ reflect the band’s growth into a sextet. (credit: Courtesy of musicisentropy on Flickr) The extensive creative influences on Blind Pilot’s _We Are The Tide_ reflect the band’s growth into a sextet. (credit: Courtesy of musicisentropy on Flickr)

Although not widely known on the East Coast, Blind Pilot delivers an unbelievably polished, unique, and — most importantly — meaningful sophomore album with their Sept. 13 release, We Are The Tide.

The album centers around Israel Nebeker’s heavy, smooth, and passionate voice, which delivers simultaneously familiar and fresh melodies supplemented by harmonies that offer refreshing aesthetic brilliance. Yet even with such a vocal focus, the album offers subtly artful instrumentation that deftly weaves in and out of the mix just enough to create a cohesive counterpoint to Nebeker’s vocals.

Expanding from its initial duo of Nebeker on guitar and vocals and Ryan Dobrowski on drums, Blind Pilot has evolved into a fully equipped sextet of multi-talented instrumentalists featuring banjo, piano, vibraphones, trumpet, violin, and stand-up bass. Blind Pilot has achieved a fuller sound than on its debut album Three Rounds and a Sound. Though both albums credit the same six musicians, a wider expanse of creative input and influence can be felt on We Are The Tide than on the band’s previous release.

This fuller sound has helped Blind Pilot invoke a whole new level of emotion in the listener. Where Three Rounds featured largely insightful but never overpowering tracks, We Are The Tide has produced songs which stay true to previous form but also invoke hope. This optimism is achieved not just through lyrical interpretation but also through upbeat instrumentation that commands attention. Longing string and horn parts accompanied by well-placed, subtle banjo-plucking and a newfound drum propulsion accompany Nebeker’s vocals, all of which feature sufficient depth for him to believably plead, “I got wise and I got old. Not once did I fall, so don’t you now,” on the last track, “New York.”

Subtly crafted instrumentation and impeccable vocals are not the album’s only strong points. Nebeker’s lyrics also add a layer of sophistication to the album that, like many of We Are The Tide’s other features, fully reveals itself only after being played several times.

What sets We Are The Tide apart from other albums is not only its unbelievable craftsmanship and immediate beauty, but also its soul. Under each catchy melody or lonely trumpet interlude is a statement about Nebeker’s songwriting. The band’s execution is able to convey not only a certain emotion — be it pain, regret, or awe — but also the sheer depth of that emotion that human experience tends to only produce in the moment, and not in retrospect. Nebeker tells stories of love and longing as well as apparent pain, heartbreak, and sheer awe throughout the entire album that leave the listener with emotional rapture after each listen.

We Are The Tide represents the kind of music that anyone can listen to and enjoy. It is masterfully crafted, and has the capability to inspire overwhelming emotion.