“Paths to Rivers” by Sheaelisa, Sheaelisa’s Ambient Sonic Journey

Album Review: “Paths to Rivers” by Sheaelisa, Sheaelisa’s Ambient Sonic Journey
Written By: Dan Eachus

Sheaelisa, the husband-and-wife musical duo comprised of Shea and Elisa Crawford, has carved a niche for themselves in the ambient music scene with their latest release, “Paths to Rivers.” This marks their remarkable 10th album, a testament to their unwavering dedication to the art of crafting serene sonic landscapes. True to their annual tradition, Sheaelisa presents a musical journey that mirrors the ebb and flow of their own relationship, blending calming tones, subtle beats, and the soothing embrace of nature.

“Paths to Rivers” opens a portal to a world where time slows down, and the listeners find solace in the tranquil soundscape painted by Shea and Elisa. The instrumentation is a delicate dance between electric and acoustic guitars, the rhythmic heartbeat of a bass guitar, the ethereal tones of an MS20 synth, and the inclusion of sampled real-life sounds, such as flowing water and airplanes passing overhead. The combination of these elements creates a rich tapestry that beckons the audience to immerse themselves in the peaceful cocoon of the album.

The duo’s commitment to using both electronic and organic instruments is evident throughout the album. The guitars, at times, cascade like gentle waterfalls, creating a meditative atmosphere. The bass guitar adds a subtle pulse, grounding the listener in a rhythmic embrace. The MS20 synth, with its vintage analog warmth, introduces an otherworldly quality to the compositions. What truly sets Sheaelisa apart is their incorporation of real-life sounds seamlessly into the music – an ode to the natural world that enriches their sonic palette.

“Paths to Rivers” is a sonic journey that invites the listener to connect with the environment, offering an immersive experience that transcends traditional musical boundaries. The album’s title itself suggests a meandering exploration, and Sheaelisa guides the audience along a path that winds through diverse sonic landscapes.

One of the standout tracks, “Lightning Bugs,” introduces trip-hop elements into the ambient tapestry. The track unfolds like a nocturnal dance, with the subtle beats creating a hypnotic rhythm that echoes the movement of the titular lightning bugs. The integration of trip-hop elements adds a layer of sophistication to the overall composition, showcasing Sheaelisa’s versatility in blending different genres seamlessly.

Another noteworthy track is “Fight or Flight,” where the duo ingeniously incorporates the sounds of real planes passing overhead. This track is a departure from the serene ambiance found in the rest of the album, introducing an element of tension and urgency. The juxtaposition of the natural world with the mechanical hum of airplanes creates a thought-provoking sonic landscape, urging the listener to contemplate the intersection of nature and human intervention.

While “Paths to Rivers” is consistent in its overall calm and ambient demeanor, it’s the nuanced details and the careful layering of sounds that make each track unique. The album encourages a state of mindfulness, allowing listeners to escape the cacophony of daily life and find solace in the gentle embrace of Sheaelisa’s musical offerings.

In conclusion, “Paths to Rivers” is a testament to the artistic synergy between Shea and Elisa Crawford. Their 10th album reaffirms their commitment to creating music that transcends genres, weaving a sonic tapestry that resonates with both the tranquility of nature and the complexities of human emotion. “Lightning Bugs” and “Fight or Flight” stand out as exemplary tracks, showcasing the duo’s ability to experiment with different elements while maintaining the core essence of their ambient sound. “Paths to Rivers” is more than an album; it’s a meditative journey that invites listeners to slow down, breathe, and find serenity in the carefully crafted soundscape of Sheaelisa.

Dan Eachus is the President and co-owner of RetroSynth Lazersteel Records, with his own musical projects in the band Neutron Dreams and his solo project DMME.

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