Release Date: 3.24.15
Reviewer: Ian Zandi
- The Song of You and Me
- Every Chance I Get
- Shadows Flow
- The Beautiful Unseen
- Lazy With Love
- Flash Paper
- Wishing Well
- Malia’s Song
- Winning Me Over
- Fast and Slow (Bonus Track)
“Who is Copperlily?”
That is the oft-asked question that could be answered in a umber of ways (such as this interview). Copperlily could be viewed as a supergroup of sorts as it consists of husband-wife duo Tim Skipper (House of Heroes) and Stephanie Skipper (formerly, pop-rock star Stephanie Smith). The opening track on their full-length self-titled debut is also a very good standard to become acquainted with Copperlily.
The very first track you will find on Copperlily is the intro “The Song of You and Me” and it serves its purpose well. Landing somewhere between ironic and meta, the Skippers sing about creating a “song of you and me” while actually making that the song. Among other things, they croon about things that made them fall for each other (Tim’s vibrato, Stephanie was “sweeter than Mexican Coca-Cola”.) One of my favorite parts of this album is placed here in the form of a small guitar lick toned to sound much like M. Ward. Given that Copperlily releases future albums, I would love to hear an entire album with that guitar tone rather than acoustic guitars (much like She & Him).
“Every Chance I Get” follows up that track with reassurance that they will not part. This is glued with a promise on the bridge, as they both exclaim “Take my life now, I don’t need it. What’s mine is yours, you best believe it.” One of the biggest (and only) detractors is found here in form of a xylophone riff. It gives the songs a sense of innocence and naivety. Perhaps that is what they were aiming for, but I think it could be scaled back (SEE WHAT I DID THERE) to touch upon a mature sound that is featured on parts of Copperlilly.
Serving as a transition track between the folk-pop acoustic tracks and the darker “The Beautiful Unseen”, “Shadows Flow” is a thumping song that evokes the laid-back feel of Jack Johnson albums. Both “Shadows Flow” and “The Beautiful Unseen” are the closest tracks on Copperlily that can be comparable to acoustic House of Heroes songs (see, “Salt in the Sea” from Suburba). This is quite fitting as “The Beautiful Unseen” is currently Tim’s favorite track off of the album.
Conversely, Stephanie’s favorite song from Copperlily is the fingerpicking-centric “Lazy With Love”. It serves as a spiritual sequel to Copperlily’s “A Lot to Learn”. The couple contemplates why they have relationship struggles, reminisce about how they “fell in love”, and then commit that they will continue to keep to their promises to each other.
“Flash Paper” starts off with the lines “Some love, is flash paper, a thickest vapor, the heaviest smoke, our love is smoldering fire.” Whether intentional or not, this seems like a throwback line to Johnny Cash’s opening lines of “Ring of Fire”. It is a truly beautiful and poetic song that is laced with Tim’s confession of “I’m just a man trying to learn how to love you.” It makes the best of his falsetto voice as well.
If I could cut out one track from Copperlily, it would probably be “Wishing Well”. It feels much like a filler track and doesn’t seem to cover any new ground (musically or lyrically). Both of the Skippers still sound great, but the only purpose that this track serves is as a transition between the low-key “Flash Paper” and the extremely up-beat “Telephone”. The latter track is unlike any other song on Copperlily as it is unabashedly a pop song. It could very well be viewed as a continuation of Stephanie Smith discography. Tim makes little to no appearance in vocal form, giving Stephanie her moment to shine.
“Malia’s Song” is a confusing concept. As far as I am aware, the Skippers have not had a child yet. However, this song is solely focused on a daughter of theirs named Malia. Current reality aside, the song is an encouraging song about persevering through life’s struggles, hoping for joy, and praying for their daughter’s future.
The album is closed out by the bare-bones track of “Winning Me Over”. It is a slower song done the right way (not boring, repetitive, or dragging the album out). In fact, this song seems to have a knack for getting stuck in my head without remembering most of the lyrics. After “Winning Me Over”, there is a gap of silence………..AND A BONUS TRACK! I personally never understood the appeal of having a bonus track (except Relient K’s joke songs). The bonus track on Copperlily is “Fast and Slow”. This song was featured on the teaser EP and it is truly excellent track that deserves to be on the “actual” tracklisting. It is a shame for it to be tucked in the tail-end of the album instead of being the main focus. I would trade it out for “Wishing Well” in a heartbeat.
Overall: Even with some of Copperlily’s flaws, it is still beautiful. I suppose that is the overall point of these songs of relationships. Joining the ranks of the many husband-wife duos (and even more simple male-female acoustic duos as of recent), Copperlily has created a sound that is distinctive from many others. Though it is acoustic, pop, and folk based, this record shows hints of various genres that the duo can dabble in the future. Copperlily is a well-produced album sure to be one of this year’s underdog albums.
RIYL: Vocal Few, Foreverly, Jenny and Tyler, She & Him, Sara Bareilles, Idina Menzel, House of Heroes,