ACL Live Review: Ley Line
Locals stand out among homegrown early festival sets
By Doug Freeman,
11:45AM, Mon. Oct. 14, 2019
Ley Line offered up the perfect invocation to the final day of ACL Fest’s two weekends. The local quartet’s interchange of tight harmonies, South American roots rhythms, and a soothing meditative pull lifted secular prayers in an inclusive communion – early afternoon salve to event’s weary fans.
Bookended by rhythm twins Madeleine and Lydia Froncek on upright bass and percussion, Kate Robberson and Emilie Basez traded lead vocal duties, yet the foursome’s true magic emerged in their melding of multilingual harmonies. The women pulled from 2016 debut Field Notes, but new songs from an anticipated spring 2020 release struck the most impressive.
New single “Oxum” provided the set highlight as the band layered through three languages (Yoruba, Spanish, English) and pulled from a confluence of West African, Brazilian, and American rhythms. Their intention on connection manifests as much musically as aesthetically, harmonies and styles weaving in subtle patterns like a world tapestry of shared myths and sounds.
Much of the new album draws from the band’s three-month excursion through Brazil following the release of their debut LP, embedding themselves in the roots of the musical tradition they most heavily draw from. Songs like traveling anthem “To the Sky” and the rejuvenating waves of “The Well,” shaded with languid tones from trombone, slide through those folk heritages while still emerging exquisitely modern.
The small but fervent crowd of mostly hometown fans in the Tito’s tent remained rapt throughout, even as Duckwrth blasted from the T-Mobile stage into the final third of of their 45-minute set. Among the many locals that impressed in the early stage slots over ACL Fest’s two weekends, Ley Line’s quiet, contemplative power stood out.