I’m not exactly what anybody would call a champion for love. There were times in the past when I thought I was, and I do have a soft spot for romantic gestures when they’re initiated genuinely, but I say with a slight twinge of regret that time and experience have led me to see the practice through grime-colored glasses.
But Hannah and Samuel Robertson may just have wiped those lenses clean. The precious husband-and-wife duo that call themselves The Woodlands not only make love look like a cakewalk, but they have translated this perfect pairing into a delicate arrangement of homemade folk-pop treasures. It’s safe to say I’m monumentally enamored with their sound.
The purity of the Portland, Ore., couple’s mutual adoration spills over into their self-titled 10-song album. Recorded at a home studio that they set up themselves, the effort is about as organic as they come. Hannah is a complete doll, her voice the female answer to Joshua Radin — soft yet concrete, languid but precise. The pair lavish their guitars with care and finesse, bathing any listening ears in luxury. Take a fresh, warm cotton sheet straight out of the dryer and nuzzle it gently against your skin. That is the Woodlands experience in a nutshell.
Like an indie-folk Vivaldi, the group elegantly strings together all four seasons on the record, sometimes subtly in a lyric or wholly represented in titles (“Summerland,” “Through the Winter”). Their attention to musical craftsmanship is apparent from the first track, “Until the Day Dims,” alight with dual guitars, piano and glockenspiel. The album’s liberal use of minor notes suggests gloom in the Woodlands’ narratives, such as the dulcet “On the Waves” and the haunting serenade “King and Queen.” But the supple serenity within their music is reassuring.
Just like a desolate winter night muffled by snowfall, the couple’s songs are curiously soothing. Even during its dark moments, there isn’t one thing about the Woodlands that is not endearing. Forget harps and lyres, hymns and psalms; I think this is really the kind of music you’ll hear in heaven.