softly, dear is a definitive by-product of the resurgent eau claire diy scene and a prime example of the role folk-infused indie rock continues to play in the town’s diverse musical climate. though at home in a basement setting, the quintet is by no means confined to these surroundings, proving time and again their capability to play sweaty bars and outdoor venues with ease. their live show is loud, predicated on tyler hart’s impassioned, narrative vocals coupled with josh frederick’s searing lead guitar lines, and the rhythm section lays down thick textures to guide softly, dear through substantial amounts of musical terrain, ranging from americana to pop to post-rock.
on record, however, softly, dear is more likely to adhere to their bradbury-inspired name. last year’s portico ep was highlighted by the success of its hard-charging, sing-along lead single “better times,” but further listens showed the band briefly experimenting with more delicate textures on deep cuts like “lenses” and “sleep it off.” when softly, dear emerged from the studio with their self-titled full-length in hand earlier this summer, they found themselves with an album that fully realizes their atmospheric potential.
the early single “things i say” and album-opener “it’s alright” breathe momentum and familiarity into softly, dear, but the band soon opts to take a more scenic route through the rest of the album. after hart and addie strei duet on “what was wrong,” the band embarks on “after,” a post-rock wandering sprinkled judiciously with acoustic piano and flute lines. following up in similar fashion with “halcyon days” and “amphion,” softly, dear has succeeded in more cohesively soundtracking the multiple road trips taken together over the past two years. album closer “if i knew you then” strips away everything electric and leaves nothing but hart’s voice and acoustic guitar, which couple to deliver an unabashed lyrical confession in a convincing manner; this is a band that can function highly on a multitude of levels. you can stream and purchase softly, dear below via the band’s bandcamp page.