Gaelynn Lea: All the Roads that Lead Us Home

Paul Whyte

Over the years, Gaelynn Lea has been an active musician in the Twin Ports area. She has become well known for her violin playing with local acts such as Snobarn, Murder of Crows, The Getarounds, a number of appearances on various artist’s albums, and of course, her own solo work. She also teaches violin to students of all ages.
Lea is inspired by traditional Celtic song, American Bluegrass as well as classical work by composers such as Tchaikovsky. While these influences are apparent on her newly release album “All the Roads that Lead Us Home,” she puts her own mark on certain tracks with an occasional contemporary twist. It should be noted that this album is straight forward and doesn’t exaggerate much on what Lea can be found playing around the area at her shows.
The listener will note that there are times where it sounds as if there are a few violins playing on several of the tracks, that is because Lea does live looping, something that she often does during live performances. For those not in the know, live looping involves recording a part of music in real time with a device and then playing that recorded segment on repeat and then adding layers or just playing over the one loop.  
Overall, the album is mostly instrumentals that often lean towards traditional Celtic music. The vibe is very mellow and soothing with the interweaving looped violins. It’s one of the most calm and refined listens that I’ve had for awhile. It might not be the best thing to listen to while pulling an all-nighter while driving, but it certainly would be nice for sitting down and reading a book or having a few glasses of wine with friends. Lea has refined her sound precisely and the notes take the listener on a journey if they were to close their eyes and truly absorb this music. This aspect is the thing I love about a lot of classical music in general.
There are just two songs with vocals on them. The first is a song I’ve heard Lea do on several occasions live, so it’s not exactly a new song. “Let it Go” acknowledges hardship and pain, but is quite uplifting. “You carry these wounds deep in your chest/They’re hard to release and lay them to rest/The bitterness creeps and how do you keep it under control/From robbing your soul?/Let yourself/Let it go.” The other track with vocals is an old tradition Bluegrass tune, Red Rocking Chair, that has been adapted by Lea.
There is a fullness to the sound of the album and that is no doubt helped by recording such an album in the cavernous  Sacred Heart; an old church turned venue and studio. Jake Larson is credited with the engineering on the album and he probably didn’t have too hard of a time handling the minimalist approach of this album.
As far as the instrument of violin, I’d consider Gaelynn as one of the foremost players in the area. Her music is absolutely beautiful with how it goes between intricate and technical to at times to flowing and entrancing. The album somewhat unconsciously stirs emotions, most of them quite bright and hopeful.


Paul Whyte

A South Shore native and University of Wisconsin-Superior journalism graduate. Lifelong musician, and former open mic host. Passionate about the music scene and politics.

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