La Palma is a musical duo comprised of Chris Walker and Tim Gibbon, two multi-instrumental musicians who have been collaborating since the conception of their self-titled debut release in 2019. The pair’s latest release, Moonflower, is a dreamy 12-track psych-pop/indie folk album that, despite being inspired by major life shifts both personal and global, contains a lightness and breeziness to it, making it a great springtime listen.
Walker and Gibbon are based out of San Francisco and Washington, DC, respectively, and as such their creation process for the album was done correspondence-style, which proved a useful system given the pandemic as well. The two musicians create their songs by adding elements bit by bit, layering on sounds and sending files of recordings across the country as they compose their musical collage of sending parts of tracks digitally back and forth, slowly layering sound upon sound to create their latest psych-pop/indie folk release. The duo cites creating the album as a mode of staying connected and staying positive, focusing on creating something beautiful and comforting in this time of changes and utter chaos.
There is a botanical theme to Moonflower, starting with the album’s title, about which La Palma states, “a flower that blooms only on the darkest of nights seemed like an appropriate metaphor.” With tracks titled “Forsythia,” “Presidio,” (referring to the vast public park space in San Francisco) and “Lilac,” La Palma weaves a common thread of natural beauty through its garden of songs, complemented by the folksy element of acoustic guitar and gentle, lilting vocals. Certain tracks call to mind the vernal lightness of acts such as Y La Bamba and Little Joy, while other more experimental tracks, which are textured with found sounds and phone recordings, are reminiscent of Animal Collective, whom the band cites as an inspiration.
Most songs on Moonflower are tinged with a dreamy nostalgia, apparent in tracks such as “Nostomania,” whose title means an intense homesickness, and whose lyrics offer the visual, “Picture the sky, saying goodbye / Picture the sand, shaking his hand,” before insisting, “If not now / Then when?” Other tracks like “Everything,” however, remain grounded in our all-too-real reality, exploring existential themes and opening with the lyrics, “Earth is on fire / These men are all liars.”
Though on the whole the album blooms with a dreamy sweetness and vague optimism, Moonflower also contains traces of a nuanced melancholia, feeling very appropriate for the season of its release.
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