By: Aliya Miranda
Night Queen’s record, Speak in Waters, feels like being dropped deep in the thick of an uninhabited forest. It’s the experience of discovering something ancient and sacred and simultaneously stumbling in on something new at every turn. This cohesive eight-track album was great company for me in the past few days as I’ve been maneuvering through thunderstorms in weather humid enough to feel like the rainforest Night Queen transports its listeners to.
On the physical CD, the track, “Who is in My Temple,” is the first to welcome us to this wild place with a dark and slow frame drum beat as vocalist and harpist Nina Lombardo earnestly, almost eerily, chants “Who is in My temple?” You feel instantly that you were not invited to this space but as the song builds with the warmth of John David Eriksen’s cello, the world begins to open itself up to you, light starts to filter in through the trees and you’re intrigued enough to leave your inhibitions behind and take your first cautious steps into this uncharted territory.
“Rain Song / How it Goes,” was released first as a single, is one of the strongest songs on the record and fits perfectly as its second track. We’re seamlessly eased into a more playful sound with steady plucks from Lombardo’s harp and an easy drum beat. Nina Lombardo’s cooing voice is light, sweet and richly emotive. Lyrically we’re given a celebration of independence and solitude that fits perfectly with the natural themes evoked with the rest of the album.
“Transmutation” is my favorite track on the record. It features the best performances from both Night Queen members Lombardo and Eriksen as well as a mean violin performance by Andrew Cook. Lombardo’s voice is airy and light and in an instant dips into a dense and powerful drone only to shoot back up in the air with ease. Eriksen’s cello sounds silky, dark and helps maintain the old-timey aesthetic of the song. After every stunning vocal performance and violin solo we’re brought right back to the same awesome cello hook and I’m reminded of the pendulum swing of a grandfather clock: reliable, ancient, and like the behavior of the subject in the lyrics predictable and unchanging. Everything melds together so perfectly and you can tell hat a lot of love went into producing this track. This song is almost nine minutes long and I never once noticed this in the dozens of times I’ve listened to it until just now. If that’s not some indication that these are artists that know what they’re doing, I don’t know what is.
I am so proud that this band came out of my hometown here in Gainesville and I hope so badly that they put out another record. This album is so beautifully thought out and well-produced and everyone should take the time to walk through Night Queen’s world. Speak in Waters in now available for purchase via bandcamp, and an added bonus if you didn’t already know, 10% of Night Queen’s album sales will be going to a fund for paying for the release of immigrant and asylum-seeking parents separated from their children. You can find the album via the link below, go get it!