Owen Schwartzbard and Julia Alsarraf make up the duo Left To Write. They are originally from Houston, Texas and now live in different parts of the country. They wrote their recent album Stories by way of the Internet. Stories is a lo-fi intimate affair full of sparse instrumentation which include piano and guitars as well as a couple of odds and ends. The songs are drenched in melancholy and the vocal duties are split between Schwartzbard and Alsarraf. Schwartzbard has a delivery similar to Connor Oberst at times and sounds best when backed by the harmonies of Alsarraf. The album is emotionally heavy with little release, which makes it hard to get through in one sitting. That being said it has occasional moments of beauty that make it worth the journey. Alasrrafs’ voice is more than attractive overall but also is held back a bit by the lo-fi production. Her voice sounds distant as if she recorded it at the other end of the room while Schwartzbard’s vocals sound as if he is whispering in your ear.
First up is Alsarraf with “Everybody Misses Sometimes.” A lone acoustic guitar provides the main melody while single notes of piano find its place within the song. This is also one of the songs that contain some percussion; nothing major a couple of rimshots and a kick drum make their appearance before quickly dissipating.
“Homecoming” is the second song and Schwartzbard’s first vocal performance of the album. The song is well-written and performed on piano and guitar but it also contains warm strings of violin that add another layer of melancholy. “Dangerous” is the most upbeat and jovial of songs on the album while the instrumental number aptly titled ”[Instrumental]” is a very effective piece of piano and strings over a field recording of a thunderstorm.
“Neighborhood Night” is the first song where both voices combine. Schwartzbard takes the lead as Alsarraf provides background vocal harmonies. It’s the centerpiece of the album and relies on a solo piano.
Stories is sparse and simple in some ways but also full of emotion. It’s an intimate album that won’t be played at bumping parties but instead will be enjoyed by yourself on a Sunday afternoon.
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