By Joseph J. Sanchez
Ye Olde Leave Behind began as music composed for the 2006 thesis recital of Wesleyan University graduate Laura Goldhamer. Attending the recital, one was not only drawn in by Goldhamer’s sense of humor, the super-competitive coloring contest interludes, or the root beer float after-party, but viewers were also given a visual element in the form of stop-motion animations composed by Goldhamer herself. These animations provided a supplement to the lyrics, highlighting key points for the listener rather than compensating for something that was not there. Overall, the performance was a delight for both the ear, the eye, and, if you count the root beer floats…the taste buds.
Since completing the project, Goldhamer has teamed up with fellow Wesleyan graduate and musician Christopher McDonald to compile a full-length studio-album of the songs performed at her thesis recital. McDonald and Goldhamer interacted previously on “Gently Now”, a song about meditation appearing on Ye Olde Leave Behind, and have recorded “Lion”, a demo for a future collaboration between the two musicians. Their musical chemistry is undeniable. When paired with Goldhamer’s charming banjo work and unique vocals, McDonald’s subtle electronic elements help take folk music to another level, beyond a “jam-band” sound.
Listeners may easily make an association with the banjo/electro sound of indie-superstar Sufjan Stevens, but Goldhamer lacks pretension or the self-important nature found in his work. Ye Olde Leave Behind comes off as a fun record simply about “growing up”, blurring the lines between childhood and the post-college concept of moving on into “the real world”. Within this mix, there are love songs (“Little Baby”), nostalgia and homage to her hometown and family (“Born There”), and fully instrumental compositions such as “Float”.
One of many shining moments on the album exists in “No Ability”, a five-minute and thirty-three second masterpiece. In the middle of the song, the instrumentation changes completely with the addition of California duo Belly Boat. The vocal trio composed by the three female singers is captivating. Goldhamer will be touring the west coast with Belly Boat this January, and if you happen to be in the area, this is a show that should not be missed.