Author: John Wenzel
Not many bands can take the raw emotion of a debut album and replicate it in their follow-up. The Rural Alberta Advantage's sophomore album, "Departed," may not have quite the same punch as its predecessor, but it's definitely cut from the same fabric in the sense that the album exudes lyrical conviction. The band may not diverge into new territories, but they put a different spin on the topics of love and loss.As the band's debut album offered listeners a mixed bag of songs, "Departed" lies more on the slower side. Still, songs like "Muscle Relaxants" and the album's first single "Stamp," break through and kick the tempo up a notch. Even though many of the tracks set up a bit slow, they are far from bland as "Departed" showcases the band's talent for crafting musically diverse backgrounds, pitch-perfect harmonies and meaningful lyrics. Pairing Amy Cole's softer, sweet melodies with lead singer Nils Edenloff's sharper, nasally voice creates harmonies that would make any elementary music teacher proud. This match creates a bittersweet sound as Cole softens the blow of Edenloff's poignant lyrics.Upon first listen, the album can sound a bit soft, but after a few times through the beautiful intricacies become more pronounced. The addition of keyboards gives this album depth while tracks featuring an acoustic guitar like "Coldest Days" benefit from an unplugged sound.