Editors' pick

The Love Language


Editorial Review

Album review: "Libraries"

On his first album as the Love Language, Stuart McLamb was all alone, both literally and figuratively. Sipping the bitter wine of a romantic breakup, the North Carolina singer-songwriter recorded some alt-country laments -- "never intended to be for anyone except my ex-girlfriend" -- in an echo-enhancing storage room.

Now a septet, Love Language made its second album, "Libraries," with producer B.J. Burton and supplementary musicians, notably a string section. The lo-fi ambitions of the group's self-titled debut blossom on "Blue Angel" and "This Blood Is Our Own," which combine Nashville twang and Motown strut with the honeyed melodies of 1960s pop. Such frisky numbers as "Heart to Tell" have an infectious spirit that suggests McLamb is having a great time, even if lines such as "I never had the heart to tell her" argue otherwise.

While his outlook is masked by the richer sound, McLamb is still inclined to brood. "If all good children go to heaven/Then all good children die," the singer observes in "Horophones," and the residue invoked in "Summer Dust" comes from human bones. But if existence and romance remain strenuous for the Love Language, blithe music lifts even the album's gloomiest musings.

--Mark Jenkins, July 2010