Eclipsing may be the debut album from duo Dan Donahue and Page Campbell, but this record is far from either’s first time at the rodeo. Longtime members of the Athens, Ga., music elite, they’ve made a record unlike the music of any of their previous bands (Campbell has performed with Hope for agoldensummer, Creepy and Dark Meat; Donahue’s written for Elf Power, of Montreal and Bear in Heaven).
The resulting collection of songs swings from folksy optimism (“Eclipsing”) to hazy, expansive foreboding. In Campbell’s hands, Donahue’s warm lyrics about love often transform into songs haunted by a sense of loneliness and loss, as in the excellent acoustic number, “Be Beautiful.” Here, a descending line of plucked guitar strings calls to mind a Renaissance minstrel, while Campbell’s harmonies resemble a chamber choir of sorts. It, like many of the tracks on Eclipsing, showcases the duo’s songwriting prowess as they build a gorgeous three minutes out of simple, age-old elements.
Producer Suny Lyons creates balance between restrained and rootsy tracks like “Eclipsing” and “No Trouble,” which frankly wouldn’t sound out of place on a Hope for agoldensummer album, and the moody spaciousness of songs like “Wild Fires.” With swaths of guitar fuzz and daubs of well-placed effects on, say, the horns provided by Neutral Milk Hotel’s Scott Spillane, or violin from Olivia Tremor Control’s John Fernandes, Lyons lends both heft and emotional depth to the album.
This is not to say that it’s a perfect record. Those more understated tracks at times feel a bit lackluster when sidled up to the likes of lead single “Sea to Sky.” But as a whole, the album is varied, cohesive and full of songs you’ll want to hear over and over again. These guys know what they’re doing.