By Anna Prater, Chattanooga, Tenn. — Imagine sitting in a packed theatre right before a production. Hundreds of people around you are chatting and the orchestra is softly playing those same few notes over and over again in the background. Then the lights begin to flicker off and on, the only words turn into whispers, and the instruments quiet down to a stop.
A deep, urgent voice begins to sing, accompanied by only a constant piano and a sporadic strings section. “I was a boy and I was good / But there are witches in these woods.” The words come out of his mouth like a desperate and angry plea.
Then, the orchestra joins. But it’s distorted and manic, saxophones and cellos followed by electric guitars and synthesizers. For three or so minutes, the stage is dark and tense and loud.
The song ends abruptly and as the lights come up a quiet, light soprano starts, “Oh god, my spirit is in trouble / I think I want to be lonely all the time.” A trumpet and chimes help Charlene Kaye float along throughout the short, delicate response to Allen Tate’s powerful opener.
“Jackrabbit,” the sophomore album by San Fermin continues on this way throughout the 15 songs that span just over 40 minutes. With Tate and Kaye alternating lead vocals between songs, and an eight-piece ensemble backing them, the album feels like a theatre production rather than a digital recording.
It’s no surprise that the album has symphonic pacing and delivery — Ellis Ludwig-Leone, the songwriter and composer of the album in its entirety, immediately started composing ballets, orchestras and ensembles since his graduation from Yale in 2011.
“Jackrabbit” is a technical and complicated album, but it doesn’t require musical aptitude or vigilant listening to enjoy. In fact, Ludwig-Leone skillfully united his classical background with popular trends to create a beautifully intricate, yet highly relatable album.
It’s not bad to dance to, either.