Opening with swaying strings, James Levy’s musical project YVEL twinkles with echoed vocals thrown into an orchestra. The space-y intentions feel as though Levy infused The Flaming Lips with ideals of Claude Debussy, which can be heard in “Golden Crown”. Levy’s vocals bend and fuse themselves into the music, becoming an apparition to the ethereal nature of his songs. While the strings sometimes feel a little redundant, the atmosphere Levy creates is calm and soothing, mixing classic with experimental. For example, “Burn Like Fire” lightly sprinkles guitar under smooth violins while his deep low vocals sweetly sing in an Andrew Bird meets Buddy Holly style. Using both heavily orchestrated tunes as well as folk guitar, YVEL listens like a Monet; from first take it sounds like a cohesive whole but as you peel away each layer, you hear a smattering of styles, instruments and arrangements. (Self-released) –Lauren Piper

 
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