Highland Kites is a musical project started by Marissa Lamar after overcoming a severe illness. I have to imagine going through the creative process of making music has been a cathartic and therapeutic process for her. On her latest release All we left behind she worked with a handful of talented musicians including Neil Briggs (drums), Raymond Richards (guitar/bass), Kaitlin Wolfberg (violin/viola) and Ken Oak (cello).
All we left behind is a great listen even if it feels a tad bit scattered at times. Lamar delivers her vocals with the utmost honesty that you can’t fake. It also doesn’t hurt that she has voice that doesn’t take much effort to enjoy. Stylistically is where Lamar jumps around a bit. All sorts of references popped into my mind such as Mazzy Star, The Chromatics and even Feist.
The Mazzy Star reference was made on the first song “Small Frame” because of the dreamy atmospheric music made possible with a good amount of hall reverb on the guitars and vocals. The song is one of the highlights on the album and unlike Mazzy Star has an upbeat, energetic energy during the verse that could be more comparable to Lower Dens. As you listen to the lyrics you can’t help but surmise that she is singing about not only the acceptance of death but the ubiquitous Eastern thought spread by gurus such as Nisargadatta Maharaj and Jiddu Krishnamurti that we’re more than a point of conscious trapped inside a meat body. She sings, “I'm only human on the outside. If my body crumbled to the sea, would you feel me in the water? Could you hear me in the breeze? So if my little body breaks, my love it will be okay. I'm more than just a human, that slowly fades away.”
“Now I’m Home” contains a good mix of melancholy and reverence. A theme starts to emerge as she sings about escape and in particular from her human form. She sings, “I start to wish the rain would melt me and the clouds would pick me up again. I'd become part of something beautiful, but I've always been a bit insane.”
“Black and White” has hints of The Chromatics and was a personal favorite. It’s a darker song in regards to the lyrics and general atmosphere. Lamar questions the ambiguity of her own existential questions while also wondering if the innate instinctive patterns and cycles we live by are natural. The next song “Broken” could actually be about the same topic as “Black and White” but could also easily be interpreted as a song about an interpersonal relationship.
Luckily, Lamar knows that an album needs a change in mood once in awhile. “Empty Pages” has deep, reverent lyrics but also manages to rock out and Lamar belts out a melody. “I Don’t Blame You” is the most single worthy song on the album. It’s catchy, upbeat and has a hook.
There are plenty of moments on All we left behind where Lamar veers towards the darkness whether it's questioning her surrounding or lamenting about feeling alone. The closer “Bitter to Brilliant” is more of an optimistic song in a number of ways and thought it was an excellent way to wrap things up. It has a life-affirming feel and the lyrics back it up. She sings, “Holding hands on swings and you screamed to me, “in 20 years, this moment will be just as strong." In all my fits and rages, as I burned our pages, I smiled in knowing the depths of love. I came alive for you. You're still alive in me.”
All We Left Behind only has minor mishaps. It’s an album that is well-written, well produced and above all else feels incredibly heartfelt and genuine.
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook