The vast expanse of bands that make up the Seattle scene today create a need for artists to consistently find new ways to challenge their listening audience. With his latest record Let It Be a Dream, Seattle’s Silver Torches gets fans to dig deep by expertly blending country-tinged indie rock and folk-oriented alternative. This emotionally raw record makes waves in the heart-space with beautifully layered guitar, key, and string arrangements, coupled with songwriter Erik Walters’ inspired verses on love, hardship, and the challenges of staying true to one’s core values.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of Silver Torches or a brand new listener, Let It Be a Dream will stir a nostalgic yearning in your soul. The record opens with the hopeful, yet melancholy twang of a pedal steel guitar, as Walters’ voice softly greets you on the title track, “Let It Be a Dream.” Walters wastes no time in informing the listener of exactly who he is; his lyrics paint a clear picture on most every song, with superb use of metaphor that almost forces one to grapple with the themes addressed on the record.
“If I Reach,” the second track, hurls the album forcefully into the realm of indie rock, as the listener is immediately confronted with a fuzzy synthesizer hook. It is here that Silver Torches’ ability to blend multiple influences begins to become noticeable; the next two tracks, “Like A Child” and “Keep the Car Running,” provide additional support of that notion, again bouncing between multiple stylistic worlds (the former being an impassioned alt-rock ballad and the latter another take on indie rock). Though the changes in genre can catch the listener off-guard, the record is cohesive as a whole, with Walters’ voice, songwriting style, and lyrical imagery providing the strongest ties which keep the album together.
An interesting moment in regards to drumming arrives in the form of a shuffle rhythm on “At the Lantern,” which is a notable example of drummer Sean Lane’s subtle yet affecting use of brushes, seen in this and several tracks. The differences in vocal production from song to song are another note of variety; certain tunes like “If I Reach” and “Keep the Car Running” find Walters’ voice wrapped in a warmth, à-la Silversun Pickups, in contrast to the wet, echoing takes found on “Let It Be a Dream,” “Bartender,” and others.
Let It Be a Dream’s emotional climax exists somewhere within the final three tracks, defined by the songs’ minor melodies and painful subject matter. The dynamic shifts between sections of “I Can’t Lie” are explosive, with the track’s powerful chorus perhaps taking the crown for the standout moment of the record. Reluctant to end the album on that note, though, Walters presses on through the truly depressing “Nothing to Show,” as he guides the listener through themes of financial struggle, hopelessness, and even total defeat (“I’m not living/I’m just treading water to stay afloat/And I’m watching myself grow old in the mirror/To vanish with nothing to show”). Somehow, the listening experience takes an even darker turn, as the album closes with “Bartender;” Walters’ final words on the track debate gambling on one’s own life, declaring “There’s DUI patrols out/On the road tonight/I guess I’ll take a chance on it/This time.”
On Let It Be a Dream, Walters’ wide range of influences is just as apparent as the dripping heart borne staunchly on his sleeve in each enveloping minute of this record. Silver Torches originally self-released this album back in October of 2017, and will be performing at the Tractor Tavern on Friday, January 12th, 2018, to celebrate the record’s debut on vinyl (via Rocket Heart Records). Let It Be a Dream is also available to stream on the band’s website and most music services.