Lowland Hum settles into a groove with ‘Native Air;’ plays Sixth and I

December 12, 2013

Daniel, left, and Lauren Goans have spent much of their marriage on the road, playing songs together as Lowland Hum. (Lowland Hum)

A typical Lowland Hum concert includes a huge, hanging art installation, handmade lyric books (for singing along) and questions from the audience. Sometimes, the duo will put out scented candles.

Oh, and there’s music, too.

“The way we think about it is everyone in the room is creating this one night together,” says Daniel Goans, Lowland Hum’s guitarist and co-vocalist. “There are however many people’s lifetimes colliding in this one room, this one night. For us, it’s really inspiring.”

Daniel and his wife, Lauren, bring their sense-feast of a folk show to Sixth and I Historic Synagogue’s downstairs venue on Thursday in support of their debut album, “Native Air.” The couple’s songs feature guitar, simple percussion and harmonies, creating a dramatic tension that makes the music sound bigger than its individual parts. Case in point: “My House Is Empty,” in which Lauren’s airy voice soars above Daniel’s grounded one, conjuring an emotional climax without much loudness.

The sound was an unexpected development for Daniel, who moved to North Carolina from Nashville, Tenn., in 2008, leaving his pop-rock band The War to focus on twangy, old-school folk fare. He had released a solo record, 2009’s “Choice Cannonballs,” and was working on the second when he met singer and visual artist Lauren Plank.

“I heard her sing a few times,” he says, “and I was just, like, ‘Wow.’ ”

First it was a musical wow, then a romantic one.

Two years later, just before Daniel released 2011’s “BrotherStranger,” the two were engaged. They’ve spent their marriage on the road, with Lauren initially taking a supporting role singing with Daniel on his songs. Now the couple sings tracks they wrote together as Lowland Hum, though some songs, like “Albatross,” are reworked versions of his solo tunes.

Lauren created the lyric books and the art installation that hangs behind them during shows. It’s a large version of the cover art for “Native Air,” which the pair recorded after forging their artistic identity.

“For the first time in a couple years,” Daniel says of the album, “we felt that we had a product that reflected the live show.”

Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St NW; Thu., 8 p.m., $10; 202-408-3100. (Gallery Place)

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Marissa Payne | December 11, 2013