Press

"BREATHTAKING AMBIENT-FOLK BALLADS FROM CHAIN OF LAKES' LATEST EP NEXT FEW WINTERS"

- Article from Current -

It’s a grey, overcast day in spring as I write this, and, with admittedly below-average temperatures, I’m almost wishing in earnest for some snow to start falling. At least the tender and downright beautiful voice of Kyle Rasche ascending from whispers to wails in the chorus of Next Few Winters is evoking a sense of appreciation for the indifferent austerity of that season. As the lead track for a brand new EP, Rasche positions this snow-filled season as an anchor of perspective — showing us that our literal and metaphorical summers are assigned such favorability for their verdancy because of how starkly winter contrasts with its stinging cold and its hushed dormancy. While that’s a poignant sentiment in itself, the emotions are piqued by the production — with a trembling violin and the elemental drone of an accompanying electric guitar. 

It is a ballad, an ode, to life in Michigan, whether you are on the snow-swept coast of Lake Michigan or shrouded by blizzards in the U.P. It’s a fine demonstration of Rasche’s signature style of an impressionistic folk that is tender and heavy at the same time. With unhurried tempos and atmospheric dressings, and a wispy-weary voice finding the perfect verbiage to illustrate all these connections between people and land, between humans and their homes. Whether these connections are symbolic or tangible, they are worth meditating on. And an EP like Next Few Winters certainly encourages that meditation.

It may be a chilly spring as I write this, but Rasche has found a way to make me reverent for the harshness of winter — and even pride in being a Michigander. Rasche has been writing and recording as Chain of Lakes for just over a decade. He’s based out of Alto, Michigan, a rural town southeast of Grand Rapids, which, for the record, gets up to 22 inches of snowfall each season. Rasche arranged and wrote these songs, utilizing his breathtaking vocals and rhythmic guitar strums, but he’s got contributions from Jeffrey Niemeier on violin, Eric Raby on bass and piano, and Kyle VanderVeen adding those distant-whooshing sheens of ambient guitar tones. 

Anytime you write and perform with a predominantly acoustic arrangement, the tendency is to consider this as “folk” music. But more than anything, Rasche is making music for self-reflection, for taking stock, for finding the glimmers of resolve and fortitude necessary to do more than just make it through a day or a week but to persevere through all seasons of life. The cold months always come back — but this is not some sort of inconvenience. It’s more so a characteristic, a rite, of the place we call home. Here in Michigan, “the wise dress warm…”

 

- Jeff Milo

Jeff covers music for Current, posting weekly show previews and highlighting new bands in the area.

"NEXT FEW WINTERS IS A SHINING EXAMPLE OF WHY WE NEED MUSIC MORE THAN EVER"

Award-winning singer-songwriter Kyle Rasche has fronted the indie-folk band Chain of Lakes for well over a decade. Playing everything from loud, beer-soaked bars to quiet listening rooms, this Michigan-based group has built critical acclaim and a loyal following through the years. Now on the latest release Next Few Winters, Kyle returns with even more focus on his songwriting craft and his vocal mastery. As a result, the new EP comes across more as a solo effort. It also contains three of his most honest, heartfelt tracks in an already impressive career.

As Kyle states, “this is the first record I’ve written and recorded with 100% of my focus and attention on the songs themselves. I’m making the songs the lead singer.” The extra attention on the songs comes through beautifully in their quiet, careful compositions and impeccably-crafted lyrics.

Though wise to put the spotlight on the songs, Kyle has plenty of talent to showcase on Next Few Winters. His seasoned vocals, lyrical prowess and knack for harmonies harken to classic artists such as Beach Boys and current favorites like Fleet Foxes, but this latest release offers listeners a more raw, stripped-down vocal approach that’s more intimate, more personal. This new dynamic takes center stage on the track “Black Ice,” but is evident throughout the album.

Yet the detailed compositions that Chain of Lakes has built a career on are far from gone. Each track is beautifully laced with guitars, violin, piano, and other instruments, working together in creating rich soundscapes that are sure to please listeners young and old. Fans of artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, Ruston Kelly, and Bon Iver will find much to love on Next Few Winters.

Though times have certainly changed for musicians and audiences alike, Next Few Winters is a shining example of why we need music more than ever. Fortunately, these new songs show that Kyle Rasche has plenty more to give. 

 

-J.Stover

Justin “Stovepipe” Stover is a gothic folk artist, podcaster, and writer from Grand Rapids Michigan.