It’s a rare thing to find music that has more than a passing commitment to poetry. And yet, one of the reasons Leonard Cohen is still touring is that people care about good lyrics. Singer/songwriter and poet, Aurian Haller’s latest album is further proof that good songwriting comes from the head as well as the heart. In tracks that explore dreamscapes, relationships, and the act of writing itself, The Dark Room hits home with an emotional intelligence that comes from Haller’s years of wielding the pen as well as the guitar. He has won numerous awards for his two books of poetry, including the National Magazine Award, and has been published internationally. Haller’s way with words, which has the Montreal Review of Books describing his latest book as “outstanding” and “intellectually brilliant,” is only enhanced by the haunting melodies and seasoned musicianship of his band, The Aurian Haller Band. The result is the group’s second album in two years. The Dark Room builds on the group’s distinctive sound, but integrates alt-country influences to create an indie folk album unlike anything else.
Collaborations with Bob Egan from Blue Rodeo and previously Wilco, as well as blues singer Clio, and jazz singer Maude Brochu among others only sweeten the deal. In songs that shimmer with luscious pedal steel, piano, cello, acoustic guitar and strings, as well as gritty electric guitars, Haller’s rich voice at once cajoles us through half-remembered dreams, and lifts us into the loud heights of folk-rock choruses. His duets with Maude Brochu, including two songs in French, demonstrate another layer to this band’s offering. “These songs grew out of conversations that I had in French with my francophone friends. And you want to stay true to the spirit of the thoughts you were having at the time of writing the song in the language you were thinking them.”
The Aurian Haller Band’s diverse blend of musicians has produced a remarkable album, most notably because the songs sink into your consciousness in a way that belies their musical richness and complexity. The band has a way of wedding a catchy pop melody to unique chord structures that make them musicians’ musicians. Co-produced and elegantly recorded by lead guitarist, Paul Hinton, this new band’s latest project stubbornly upholds the concept of the album as a complete work, to be listened to old school – from beginning to end.